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.

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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:

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