With early voting for the May 29 primary election already underway, and with the federal government's tet-a-tet with Texas over its 2011 voter ID law far from settled, the ACLU of Texas wants to remind you that no, you don't need to show an ID to vote and if a poll worker asks you for one, you can tell them to shove it. More precisely, you should inform them in measured tones that "(t)he Photo Voter ID law has not been approved by the Justice Department and is not yet in effect," per the ACLU's recommendation.
The ACLU is not the first to point this out, but Terri Burke, executive director of the organization's Texas arm, said the language on the back of voting registration cards has prompted confusion.
Since I brought mine to work today to prove that I'm legally permitted to work in the United States, I flipped it over for a refresher.
"Upon federal approval of a photo identification law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011," the card states, a voter must show a valid photo ID, like a driver's license or, because this is Texas, a concealed handgun permit.
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OK, the law's the law, I suppose, but hey, remember how Texas has a history of racial discrimination at the polls and how the U.S. Department of Justice swatted down the ID law?
Burke certainly does. Those new documents will be required only if the feds okay the 2011 measure, which she says may never happen and certainly won't in time to go into effect for the primaries.
Until then, voters can use the same ID they always have. If you're told differently, don't listen and be sure to memorize the following sentence:
"Under section 63.0101 of the Texas Election Code, the valid forms of ID include, for example: (1) a voter registration certificate; (2) a driver's license or photo ID card; (3) a birth certificate; (4) U.S. citizenship papers; (5) a U.S. passport; (6) official mail addressed to you from a government entity; or (7) a copy of a utility bill, paycheck, bank statement, government check, or other government document with your name and address."