County Preps Voters on Election ID Law
County officials scramble to tell voters what Texas GOP doesn't want them to know
With constitutional amendments and the special election in House District 50 on the Nov. 5 ballot, Travis County is mounting a last-ditch scramble to make sure everyone can vote under the new voter ID laws. Between Oct. 3-8, the county will operate mobile locations so residents without a driver's license can apply for the new free election ID certificate.
As of this year's elections, registering to vote isn't enough: Registered Texans will still need a photo ID (a yellow voter registration card alone at the ballot box won't be enough, but a state-issued photo ID should suffice). When state Republican lawmakers pushed through voter ID in 2011, one concession was to introduce free voter ID cards. However, those same legislators did little to help their rollout. Travis County Tax Assessor/Collector and Voter Registrar Bruce Elfant said, "A lot of states gave their counties a year or more to prepare and gave them significant resources. We have about a month, and we have no resources."
Election ID certificates are only for people with no other valid form of state identification. Yet there are still additional hurdles for voters with a license or state ID card. As of November, they must provide a photo ID at the ballot box*. The two do not have to be identical, but the law requires them to be "substantially similar"; otherwise the voter can only cast a provisional vote.
County staff estimate there could be as many as 37,000 Travis County residents who lack the right documents to vote. The most immediate concern is elderly, disabled, and economically disadvantaged voters who either do not have or cannot afford a driver's license: Those are the people for whom the free election ID certificate is designed. However, the county estimates there could also be as many as 3,200 residents of West Campus – many of them students – who may not yet have the right ID. Elfant said, "We're going to do the best we can in the short period of time we have to get the word out to the community." Voters are encouraged to visit www.keepcalmvoteon.com or call 512/238-VOTE for more info.
*The original version of this story stated that voters would be required to present both a photo ID and a voter registration card in order to vote. Although a photo ID is required, there is no requirement for a voter registration card.
What You Need to Get an Election ID
Bring your birth certificate, or other proof of citizenship, plus any two of these documents:
• Social Security card
• Voter registration card
• School records
• Medicare or Medicaid card
• ID card issued by a government agency
• Unexpired insurance policy
• Expired Texas ID
Get Your Election IDs Here
Thursday, Oct. 3 & Monday, Oct. 7, 8am-5pm
• UT Flawn Academic Center, 2400 Inner Campus Dr.
• Fiesta Stassney, 5510 S. I-35
• Gardner Betts Juvenile Center Annex (lobby), 2501 S. Congress (BoA Bldg.)
• North Austin YMCA, 1000 W. Rundberg
Friday, Oct. 4 & Tuesday, Oct. 8, 8am–5pm
• Austin Area Urban League, 8011-A Cameron #100
• ACC Eastview Campus, 3401 Webberville, Bldg. 200
• ACC Riverside Campus, 1020 Grove Blvd, Bldg. G
• Fiesta Central, 3909 N. I-35
Election ID certificates are also available at DPS offices.
What You Need to Vote
Bring ONE of these documents to the polling site:
• TX DPS-issued driver's license
• TX DPS-issued personal ID card
• TX DPS-issued concealed handgun license
• U.S. military ID card with your photo
• U.S. certificate of citizenship or U.S. certificate of naturalization with photo
• U.S. passport book or card
• Election ID Certificate issued by DPS