Update: The TDP had contacted me regarding some language they regarded as problematic in the original newsletter version of this piece and have asked me to revise this post :
I’m sure that everyone has heard about the changes in the Voter ID law as a result of the Fifth Circuit decision earlier this year. On August 10th, Federal District Judge Nelda Ramos signed off on a plan to allow voters that do not have the valid photo ID’s required by SB14 to vote in the November Elections. Highlights of the Order and subsequent guidance from the Texas Secretary of State:
- If you have a SB14 ID, you should vote with your SB14 ID. If you don’t have it in your possession, you may vote provisionally and then bring your SB14 ID to election central within six days of the election. However, this is not the recommended course of action – if you have a SB14 ID, take it and use it;
- If you have not been able to get a SB14 ID but you have one of these following documents, you will have to complete and sign a “reasonable impediment declaration” to be able to vote: valid voter registration certificate; original birth certificate; copy or original of a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or government document that shows the voter’s name and an address (including, but not limited to: out-of-state driver’s or non-driver’s license; DPS-issued TX driver’s or non-driver’s license that is expired more than four years; ID card issued by a recognized Native American tribe; public college or university document. If you follow this procedure, you will be allowed to vote a regular ballot (not provisional);
- The declaration of reasonable impediment includes the following language: By signing this declaration, I swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that I am the same individual who personally appeared at the polling place, that I am casting a ballot while voting in-person, and I face a reasonable impediment or difficulty that prevents me from getting an acceptable form of photo identification. My reasonable impediment or difficulty is due to the following reason(s):
- Lack of transportation;
- Disability or illness;
- Lack of birth certificate or other documents needed to obtain acceptable photo ID;0
- Work schedule;
- Family responsibilities;
- Lost or stolen photo ID;
- Photo ID applied for by not received; or
- Other reasonable impediment or difficulty.
- Election personnel will be asking the voter if they possess an acceptable SB14 ID. However, if the voter says no, election judges and clerks cannot challenge the reasonableness of the “impediment” to having a SB14 ID. This means that election personnel may not ask further questions of the voter to inquire whether the voter has a SB14 ID, whether the claimed impediment is reasonable, or as to the truth of the declaration made by the voter;
- The declaration may only be rejected if there is conclusive evidence that the person completing the declaration is not the person for whom the ballot is being cast. This means there really is still a protection against in-person voter fraud. It just puts the onus on the state to prove the fraud, not the individual to prove their eligibility to vote; and
- The State must develop a plan and spend $2.5 million on voter education and training of election personnel before the November election.
- It is the best practice to carry the SB14 ID with you to the polls, as the secretary of State has issued some guidance on the issue if you don’t have your ID with you when you go to the polls:
- “If a voter possesses an acceptable form of photo ID but does not have it at the polling place, the voter will still be permitted to vote provisionally. The voter will have (six) 6 days to present an acceptable form of photo identification to the county voter registrar, or fill out the natural disaster affidavit referenced in the Exemption/Exceptions section below), or the voter’s ballot will be rejected.”
Here is a link to the Judge’s decision.
Texas Secretary of State Press Releases about Voter ID.
Texas Secretary of State Voter ID page here.
Stay tuned for any changes, as the Secretary of State and Montgomery County Elections have not completed all of the changes necessary to implement this plan yet.
Marc Meyer, Chair
Montgomery County Democratic Party