Texas: Provisional ballot vs. reasonable impediment declaration. When to ask for it

In Texas, you have the right to request a provisional ballot or reasonable impediment declaration if you face challenges at the polls.

A provisional ballot is cast by a voter whose eligibility to vote cannot be proven, either by their name not appearing on the list of registered voters or if the voter doesn’t possess one of the acceptable forms of identification.

A reasonable impediment document is filled out by voters who cannot get identification because of lack of transportation, disability or illness, lack of birth certificate, or other documents needed to get an acceptable photo ID, work schedule, lost or stolen ID.

To get a provision ballot, a viral tweet by George Takei suggests using the exact language, “I request a provisional ballot as requested by law.”

Voters should also ask for a receipt, which allows them to follow up and check if their vote has been counted, said Allegra Chapman, senior counsel and director of voting and elections for Common Cause, according to Snopes.

In order for the provisional ballot to be counted, Texans must go to their correct voting precinct.

The voter is also required to visit the voter registrar’s office within six calendar days of the date of the election to present one of the acceptable forms of photo identification, according to voteTexas.org.

If, after the election, administrators determine that the voter who cast the provisional ballot was eligible to vote, the ballot will be counted as a regular ballot, according to Ballotpedia.

These are the acceptable forms of identification in Texas, according to the ACLU:

a Texas driver’s license

an election identification certificate (a photo ID for voting)

a personal identification card from the Texas Department of Public Safety

a U.S. military ID card with your photo

a U.S. citizenship certificate with your photo

a U.S. passport

a license to carry a concealed handgun from the Texas Department of Public Safety

If for some reason the voter doesn’t have any of those forms of identification, the American Civil Liberties Union says voters should tell poll workers they want to complete a “reasonable impediment declaration.”

“This simple document lets you explain the difficulty that prevented you from getting a photo ID,” the ACLU says. “Reasonable impediments to getting a photo ID include work schedule, lack of transportation, disability, and family responsibilities.”

After filling out the declaration, hand it back to the poll worker, the ACLU says.

Then, show one of the following documents:

Current utility bill

Bank statement


Voter Registration Certificate

Certified birth certificate

Government check

Any other government document with your name and address

More information about provisional ballots and reasonable impediment declarations can be found here: votetexas.gov/register-to-vote/need-id.html

Nationwide, readers are searching for various information as they head to the polls. See how people are searching for issues, such as provisional ballots, in our area through the latest Google search trends:

The Star-Telegram has joined ProPublica’s Electionland project to track and monitor voting problems nationwide. If you experience any problems on Election Day in Tarrant County that stop you from voting or make it difficult, share your experience with us by text message, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. For more information about Electionland, click here.

Nichole Manna: 817-390-7684, @NicholeManna
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