The Flash Staff Report
ERATH COUNTY (August 12, 2016) – All you need is an ink pen and a utility bill to weigh in on November’s ballot. On Wednesday, a plan was approved by a federal judge saying Texas voters will not be required to present a photo ID to vote in the general election.
The offices of President and Vice President of the United States are on the November 8 ballot along with other key federal and state offices.
Secretary of State Carlos H. Cascos said Thursday his office was updating the agency’s websites to reflect the order. Meanwhile, Cascos issued a press release explaining the latest in the ongoing battle, which supporters say was spurred by an effort to prevent election fraud. The law had a strong show of support from the state’s Republican lawmakers.
On the other side of the fight are civil rights activists who say the discriminatory law makes it harder for minorities, senior citizens and young people to participate in the election process. The purportedly disenfranchised voters have a tendency to align themselves with Democratic candidates and their policies.
The voter ID law took effect in 2013, requiring voters to present one of seven forms of approved photo identification when casting ballots, including a driver’s license, election identification certificate, personal identification card or handgun license issued by the State of Texas or a U.S. military identification card, citizenship certificate or passport.
The latest court order says voters unable to obtain an approved photo ID can vote by signing an affidavit or “impediment declaration” explaining why they cannot obtain proper identification. They must also provide some sort of supporting documentation such as an original birth certificate or voter registration certificate or by submitting an original or copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document verifying the name and address of the voter. None of the approved forms of supporting documentation include a photo.
Erath County Clerk Gwinda Jones said she doesn’t anticipate problems to arise from the new ruling.
“The majority of voters use their driver’s license,” she said. “Even when the law changed, we didn’t see a lot of problems. Generally, our voters have their wallets with them because they have been in the car, and 95 percent use their license to vote because they forgot the voter certificate at home.”
Voters with questions about how to cast a ballot in upcoming elections can call 1-800-252-VOTE. Information will also be posted online at votetexas.gov.
Staff Writer Amanda Kimble contributed to this report.