As early voting starts across Texas this week, the remainder of the state's early voting law is still largely inscrutable. Sure, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has slapped down the state for implementing a voter ID law that the court ruled unduly affected the state's poor and minorities, but portions of the law are still on the books, leaving the matter in flux.
Here's a breakdown of what you need to know as you head to the polls over the next couple of weeks.
You still need to bring your ID (if you have one). — The 5th Circuit's ruling still allows the state to require that anyone who could've acquired an ID without undue hardship to show one in order to get a ballot. If you have an ID, that's means you didn't have an undue hardship getting one, because you wouldn't have one if you did. If you possess one of the following and it is current or has been expired for less than four years, voting should be pretty easy:
- State driver's license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety
- Texas election identification certificate
- Texas personal identification card
- Texas license to carry a handgun
- U.S. military ID card that includes a personal photo
- U.S. citizenship certificate that includes a personal photo
- U.S. passport
It's worth noting here that carrying a photo ID means you don't need to worry about bringing your voter registration card to the polls. Poll workers will be able to pull up your information for you, no problem.
If you don't have an acceptable ID, voting is pretty easy for you, too. — Anyone without an ID can sign an affidavit attesting to the trouble they had getting one and be given a ballot, if they can provide a secondary ID. Acceptable secondary IDs include voter registration cards, certified birth certificates, utility bills, bank statements or any other document that shows the potential voter's name and address. Poll workers and election judges are not allowed to question the reason for which a voter says that he or she had trouble obtaining an ID.
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Marc Veasey, the Dallas U.S. representative who brought the suit challenging Texas' voter ID law, told the Observer in August that he believes the law, as it will be enforced at the polls over the next couple of months, is more than enough to stop any in-person voter fraud that might occur.
Ken Paxton, Texas' attorney general, appealed the 5th Circuit's decision to the Supreme Court in September. "Voter ID laws both prevent fraud and increase the public’s confidence in our elections. Texas enacted a common-sense voter ID law, and I am confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately reinstate it," Paxton said after filing his appeal.
The court has yet to rule in the case.