Voting law changes; what you need to know to vote this November

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With the passing of Senate Bill 14 a new requirement was created for voters to show photo identification when voting. The November 5, Constitutional Amendment vote will be the first to implement these new requirements. The Robertson County Election Department and Elections Administrator Trudy Hancock are encouraging all Robertson County voters to head to the ballots on November 5. “It is the first time with the new ID requirements and this is an excellent opportunity for residents to make sure they comply with these new laws.” Traditionally, voter turnout is low for straight constitutional ballots, however the elections office is hoping to use this election date to better streamline the voting process before the primary elections in May 2014.
First you need to register to vote. For the November election you will need to register by October 7, 2013. It is important to note that your voter registration needs to match your photo ID information. This includes your first and last name. This presents itself as a problem for a lot of women voters as their names do not always match on all forms of ID due to a marriage.
Acceptable forms of voter’s id:
    •    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
All forms of ID must be current and not expired to be considered valid with the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate.
Currently the County Elections Administration office is looking at helping residents get an ID, for free including a mobile unit. Though nothing is finalized, you can contact Trudy Hancock at 979-828-5726 for more information.
When a voter arrives at the polls, election officials will be required to match your ID to that of the official list of voters (OLRV.) If the name matches on both the list and the ID a voter will then follow normal procedures for voting.
If the name does not match exactly but is “substantially similar” to the name on the OLRV, the voter will be permitted to vote as long as the voter signs an affidavit stating that the voter is the same person on the list of registered voters.
If a voter does not have proper identification, the voter will still be permitted to vote provisionally. The voter will have (six) 6 days to present proper identification to the county voter registrar, or the voter’s ballot will be rejected.
Exemptions and Exceptions
Voters with a disability may apply with the county voter registrar for a permanent exemption. The application must contain written documentation from either the U.S. Social Security Administration evidencing he or she has been determined to have a disability, or from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs evidencing a disability rating of at least 50 percent. In addition, the applicant must state that he or she has no valid form of photo identification. Those who obtain a disability exemption will be allowed to vote by presenting a voter registration certificate reflecting the exemption. Please contact your voter registrar for more details.
Voters who have a consistent religious objection to being photographed and voters who do not have any valid form of photo identification as a result of certain natural disasters as declared by the President of the United States or the Texas Governor, may vote a provisional ballot, appear at the voter registrar’s office within six (6) calendar days after election day, and sign an affidavit swearing to the religious objection or natural disaster, in order for your ballot to be counted. Please contact your county voter registrar for more details.
For more information on the new Texas voting laws visit online at www.votetexas.gov/register-to-vote/need-id and for a complete look at voting in Texas visit online at www.votetexas.gov.

Dennis Phillips / Publisher

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