Secretary of State John Steen visited with area election officials on Thursday, Oct. 17, to hear concerns about the new photo I.D. law that has gone into effect in Texas.
“This is the first statewide election where we’re going to have photo ID required,” said Steen. “So we’ve traveling all over the state trying to talk to people about that new requirement, and to explain to them how it works and to hear any concerns that people have.”
Steen, along with County Clerk Diana Barrera, fielded questions and concerns pertaining to the abrupt transition into implementing the law that was sent down from the Supreme Court in June, requiring voters produce one of six approved forms of identification in order to vote in the upcoming election.
The six approved forms of identification include three issued from the Department of Public Safety: Texas Driver’s License, Texas Personal Identification Card, or Texas concealed handgun license; and three issued directly from the United States: United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph, United States citizen certificate containing the person’s photograph, or a United States passport.
The biggest concern statewide has been the assumption that because a voter does not have one of the six approved forms of identification they will not be able to vote in the upcoming election. Steen states that there is another option.
“For anybody that doesn’t have one of those approved forms of ID, they can go to the DPS office and get an Election Identification Certificate,” said Steen.
The Election Identification Certificate (EIC) is a free form offered to voters who do not have one of the other forms of approved identification. The EIC can be applied for at the Department of Public Safety office. Steen states that the EIC will only be valid for elections, and will not be a valid form of identification outside of polling places. Further, if the voter does indeed have one of the other approved forms of identification, an EIC cannot be issued.
There will also be mobile stations, provided by DPS, set up at various places throughout the county to help voters in registering for the EIC. The mobile stations will at the Nueces County Courthouse, the Maintenance Building in Flour Bluff, the Greenwood Senior Citizens Center, and the Johnny Calderon Building in Robstown. For smaller counties that do not have a DPS office, DPS has provided the equipment to set up a mobile station at their respective courthouses.
To alleviate further concern, Steen stated that if a voter arrives at their respective polling place without photo identification or an EIC, they will still be able to vote.
“Some people have thought that if you don’t have a photo ID you won’t be able to vote. It’s an important thing to tell people that you will be able to vote, because you can still vote provisionally,” said Steen. “You can go ahead and vote, and then you will have six days to show proof of identity at your local Tax Office.”
Steen also stated that if you are 65 or older, or disabled, you can still vote by mail.
Election Day is on Nov. 5, just around the corner. For more information on the new photo I.D. law, visit www.votetexas.gov.
“We want to make sure everybody understands how all of this works, and we’re hoping it’ll go as smoothly as possible,” said Steen.