Last Updated on September 9, 2012 @ 7:45am
(This article is updated as events warrant)
Texas' SB 14 photo I.D. law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011, requiring voters to show photo identification, is currently on hold pending an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. Select government issued photo I.D., as specified in SB14, has NOT received federal approval and is therefore NOT required to vote in any Texas county for the November 2012 election.
Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department or a federal court is required to pre-clear laws affecting voters before they go into effect in jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination -- and that includes Texas. Texas has the burden at trial to prove that its SB14 voter photo I.D. law, signed into law by Gov. Perry last year, does not have the purpose or effect to deny a minority citizen the right to vote. A Washington D.C. Circuit Court three-judge panel, composed of D.C. Circuit Judge David Tatel, and District Court Judges Rosemary Collyer and Robert Wilkins, ruled on August 30, 2012 that Texas did not prove its case. The D.C. Circuit found that SB14 does, in fact, impose strict, unforgiving burdens on poor minority citizens.
The Texas Secretary of State’s Office sought preclearance from the USDOJ on July 25, 2011.
On March 12, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) rejected Texas' application for preclearance of its voter photo ID law, saying the state did not prove that the bill would not have a discriminatory effect on minority voters.
The department’s rejection letter written by Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez states that Texas did not meet its burden under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of showing that the law will not have a discriminatory effect on minority voters, and therefore the department objects to the Texas voter identification law.
On Monday, January 23, 2012, the Texas attorney general’s office filed an Expedited Complaint for Declaratory Judgment the U.S. District Court of D.C. against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice asking the court to grant preclearance the state’s controversial voter photo ID law without further delay. The D.C. Court’s three-judge panel empaneled to hear Texas’ voter ID case scheduled preliminary arguments for March 14, 2012, the date after the USDOJ was expected issue its preclearance ruling.
The Washington D.C. Circuit Court three judge panel heard opening arguments in the trial on July 9, 2012. The five day trial concluded with closing arguments on Friday July 9, 2012.
The Washington D.C. Circuit Court three judge panel, composed of D.C. Circuit Judge David Tatel, and District Court Judges Rosemary Collyer and Robert Wilkins, ruled against the Texas SB14 Photo I.D. Law on August 30, 2012. The three-judge panel found that the law imposes "strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor" and noted that racial minorities in Texas are more likely to live in poverty.
While Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he will appeal the DC Court decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Associated Press reported on August 30, 2012 that Abbott said the appeal process can not be complete in time for the law to be enforced for the November 2012 election.Select government issued photo I.D., as specified in SB14 legislation passed by the Texas legislature in 2011, has NOT received federal approval and is therefore NOT required to vote in any Texas county for the November 2012 election.
Valid forms of identification for the November 2012 General Election:
- Your Voter Registration Card
- A driver’s license or personal identification card issued to you by the Texas Department of Public Safety. You may also bring a similar document issued to you by an agency of another state, even if the license or card has expired;
- A form of identification that contains your photograph and establishes your identity;
- A birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes the person’s identity;
- Your United States citizenship papers;
- Your United States passport;
- Official mail addressed to you by a governmental entity; or
- A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.NOTE: A SB14 related statement, as specified by the Texas Secretary of State, on the back of 2012-13 Voter Registration Cards can be misinterpreted to mean that voters must present select government issue photo identification, as specified in SB14, in order to vote. Here is the statement written on the back of new 2012 voter registration cards:
"Upon federal approval of a photo identification law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011, a voter must show one of the following forms of photo identification at the polling location before the voter may be accepted for voting: Driver's license, election identification certificate, personal identification card or concealed handgun license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety; United States Military identification card that contains the person's photograph; United States citizenship certificate that contains the person's photograph; or a United States passport.
The above identification must be current and not expired, or if expired, then it must have expired no more than 60 days before it is presented for voter qualification at the polling place. Please contact the Secretary of State or your local voter registrar for information concerning when the above photo identification requirement for certain voters with disabilities, or voters with religious objections to being photographed, and voters affected by certain natural disasters.
Here are the things you need to know about the SB14 law.Please visit the Secretary of State website at www.sos.state.tx.us or call toll free at 1-800-252-8683. If any information on this certificate changes or is incorrect, correct the information in the space provided below, sign and return this certificate to the voter registrar.
Frequently Asked Questions:
When Will I Receive My New 2012-2013 Voter Registration Card?
If you have not already received your new yellow 2012-13 voter registration card, you may not be registered to vote in the county where you currently reside.
This year, drawn out court battles over the new redistricting maps pushed out Voter Registration Card mailings to late April. If you never received your new yellow voter registration card you should immediately check your registration status. To check your Collin Co. registration status - click here. To check your registration status in another county - click here. If you find you are not registered to vote, you can find the Voter's Registration application by clicking here.If The Voter Photo ID law is granted preclearance, what type of ID will I need to vote?
For specific information about voting in Texas, click here to find the Secretary of State’s pamphlet on Texas Voting. Government issued photo ID is not yet required to vote in any Texas county. (see Texas Voter Photo ID FAQ)
Description of some of the fields on the voter registration card:
Read more »
With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, all government issued photo identification must be unexpired or expired no earlier than 60 days before the election. Acceptable identification includes:I’m a senior. Am I exempt from the photo ID requirements?
*Student IDs and Veteran IDs are not accepted in Texas for purposes of identification for voting.
- A driver’s license, election ID certificate, or personal ID card issued to the person by the Department of Public Safety;
- U.S. military ID card that contains the person's photograph;
- U.S. citizenship certificate issued to the voter with their photograph;
- U.S. passport; or
- A license to carry a concealed handgun.
Texas SOS Election Advisory No. 2011-10
SB 14, as passed by the Texas Legislature, has no exemptions for senior citizens, regardless of age.What are some exceptions to the photo voter ID requirement?
Exceptions AvailableHow do I get a qualified photo ID?
A person may obtain an exemption from the ID requirement on the basis of disability if they produce a statement in a form determined by the SOS that the applicant does not have any of the prescribed forms of identification, and they have an:
- U.S.S.S.A. determination of disability, or
- U.S.V.A. disability rating of 50%.
A voter without a photo ID may cast a provisional ballot, which will count if she signs an affidavit attesting to the fact that she:
The affidavit may be signed at the time the provisional ballot is cast or at the time the voter appears before the voter registrar within 6 days following the election to have the provisional ballot counted.
- has a religious objection to being photographed, or
- does not have an ID as a result of a natural disaster declared by the U.S. President or Texas’ Governor no earlier than 45 days before the election and that disaster caused the inability to access the voter’s ID.
Early/Absentee Voting ID Requirements
The photo ID requirement does not apply to absentee voting, including early voting by mail. Photo ID requirements apply to all in-person or curbside early voting.
Voters who do not possess any of the above types of ID will be able to obtain a free Election Identification Certificate (EIC) from the Texas Department of Public Safety, if the law is precleared. In order to obtain an EIC, you will need to bring the same type of documentation used to prove your identity that you would need if you were apply for a Driver’s License or Personal Identification card. If you do not already have one of the above listed types of ID you must present one of the following documents at the DPS office:
- Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by your appropriate birth state's State Bureau of Vital Statistics or equivalent agency from a U.S. state, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia. A birth record issued by a hospital is not acceptable under this category.
- Original or certified copy of U.S. Dept. of State Certification of Birth Abroad (issued to U. S. citizens born abroad)
- Original or certified copy of court order with name and date of birth (DOB) indicating an official change of name and/or gender from a U.S. state, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia.If you do not currently have the required documentation to obtain an EIC, now would be a good time to start the process of obtaining the necessary documentation. For the list of acceptable DPS documents, click here. Helpful tip: One of the acceptable pieces of “Supporting Identification” necessary is a Voter Registration Card. If you are not already registered, have moved, or lost your card, you can get a new or updated certificate by going here. Getting a photo ID may require documentation such as a birth certificate and take several weeks. Voters without a qualified photo ID should allow enough time to get the required documents.
Can I use an expired driver’s license to vote?If you need to obtain ID documentation needed to obtain an EIC, here are some links you might find helpful:
Except for citizenship papers, the ID must be current or have expired no more than 60 days before voting.What will the poll worker check at the polls?
Poll workers will check that the photo is of the voter and the names on the ID and voter registration list match.What if my name changed since the last time I voted?
You can check your registration information by visiting the “Am I Registered?” page of the Texas Secretary of State’s website. There are various ways to change your registration information:Do I need to re-register if my address changed?
- Visit the Texas Secretary of State’s site. Texas does not offer online voter registration, but you can fill out a voter registration form to print and send to your Texas County's Elections office.
If name on your ID and your voter registration match, addresses do not need to match.What if I don’t have a photo ID when I go to vote?
Voters without a qualified Texas state- or government-issued photo ID can vote a provisional ballot and present a qualified photo ID within 6 days. If you are otherwise eligible and you present ID within six days, your ballot will count.Can I use a school or university issued ID to vote?
No, students will not be able to use their school IDs to vote in the Texas elections. They will need to obtain one of the acceptable photo IDs issued by the Texas Department of Safety or the U.S. government.Will State and County Election Officials provide more information, if the voter photo ID law is pre-cleared?
The Secretary of State, and the voter registrar of each county that maintains a website, shall provide notice of the ID requirements for voting in each language in which voter registration materials are available. The Secretary of State shall prescribe the wording of the notice to be included on the websites, and shall also conduct a statewide effort to educate voters regarding the identification requirements for voting. The county clerk of each county shall post in a prominent location at the clerk’s office a physical copy of ID information in each language in which voter registration materials are available.More Texas Voter ID Resources
- Much of this information was adapted from The League of Women Voters of Texas
- The Texas Secretary of State’s website contains more information about SB 14 here.
- VoteTexas.org has a simple explanation here.
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