Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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June 25, 2013

State to enforce photo ID for voters

Supreme Court ruling allows 2011 law to take effect

Corsicana — As of Tuesday, if you want to vote in Texas, you’ll not only have to be registered to vote — you’ll have to show a valid photo ID.

The Texas Secretary of State’s website posted the requirement following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Tuesday, striking down portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The state passed legislation in 2011 requiring voters to show photo identification when voting in person. That law never took effect pending a federal review. Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling, the Secretary of State’s office said, “effectively ends all pending litigation” and clears the way for enforcement of the now two-year-old law.

Acceptable forms of photo identification to cast a ballot in person include:    

• Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).

• Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS.

• Texas personal identification card issued by DPS.

• Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS.

• United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph.

• United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph.

• United States passport.

The Voter ID law says the document presented must either be current or have expired no more than 60 days prior to being presented at a polling place.

Voters with a disability can apply for a permanent exemption from the requirement if they meet certain guidelines, and those with religious objections to being photographed can still cast a provisional ballot, but must file an affidavit with the voter registrar’s office within six days of an election. Those who have lost their identification as a result of a natural disaster as declared by the Texas governor or U.S. president may also cast a provisional ballot without a photo ID.

The law does not affect those who cast ballots by mail.

A new “Election Identification Certificate” is available through the Texas Department of Public Safety and will satisfy the requirements of the act.

Navarro County Elections Coordinator Danda Parker reminds voters that they still need to be registered to vote, in addition to presenting a valid photo ID.

“To be able to vote and to have your vote counted you will have to register at least 30 days prior to Election Day,” Parker said.

The state’s website said in a “Q&A” on the new requirements that voters who refuse to show photo proof of their identity will be allowed to vote by provisional ballot, but said the ballot may be rejected by the local ballot board, since refusal to show a photo ID is not a valid reason for casting a provisional ballot under the act.

“Provisional ballots are paper ballots that are put into a secrecy envelope,” Parker explained. “On the outside of the envelope the election judge fills in the information stating why that person is voting provisional. Those ballots are placed in a separate sealed bag and turned over to the ballot board. Then the ballot board reviews the envelope and determines if the ballot envelope is to be opened and the ballot counted or not.”

More information on the photo ID provisions of the Texas election laws is available at www.votetexas.gov or available by email at elections@sos.state.tx.us

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