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Hey, Texplainer: When I show up to the polls to vote, do I need my photo ID?
If you’re confused about what ID to bring to the polls, it’s no wonder; Legal wrangling over the state’s requirements this year has turned rather complicated.
Here's where things stand: In July, a federal appeals court ruled that Texas’ voter ID law discriminated against minority groups and ordered a district court judge to draw up a temporary fix for the November election.
Broadly, the remedy splits Texas voters into two groups: those that have one of the types of photo IDs that meet the parameters of the original law and those that don't.
Those who have a qualifying photo ID must show it in order to vote in this year's general elections.
Here are the seven types of photo ID accepted under the original law:
- State drivers 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 license to carry a handgun (issued by DPS)
- U.S. military ID card that includes a personal photo
- U.S. citizenship certificate that includes a personal photo
- U.S. passport
Voters who do not have any of those documents and cannot “reasonably obtain” them can still cast a vote if they sign a form in which they swear that they have a “reasonable impediment” from obtaining appropriate identification. Those voters will also have to present one of the following types of ID:
- Valid voter registration certificate
- Certified birth certificate
- Copy or original of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other document that shows the voter’s name and address (any government document that contains a voter’s photo must be an original)
Also of note: Election judges may not question a voter about the reasonableness of a claimed impediment.
Bottom line: If you have qualifying photo ID, bring it. But if you have not obtained one, you can still cast a ballot using other forms of ID.
Here’s what you need to know about voting in Texas this year:
- What are the rules for Texas poll watchers? We explain.
- The voting-age population figure being used by the Texas secretary of state's office to calculate registration and turnout percentages may be off the mark.
A record 15.1 million Texans have registered to vote in the November election — a number that eclipses the preliminary estimate by more than 85,000.
- Texas ranked eighth-to-last in voter turnout for the presidential primaries
Did you have any trouble voting? Text us your experience by joining the ElectionLand project. We'll check in to find out how long it took you to vote and whether you had or saw any problems. Sign up now by texting TEXAS VOTES to 69866.