Election Offices, Central Texans Sound Off On Texas Voter ID Law

By: Matt Howerton Email
By: Matt Howerton Email

MCLENNAN COUNTY (June 26, 2013) -- It’s been a big week for both the U.S. Supreme Court and Texas.

The court’s “unconstitutional” ruling of Section 4 in the Voting Rights Act Tuesday gave state officials the go-ahead to immediately implement SB 14 that afternoon.

The bill would require registered voters to show a state-issued photo ID before casting their ballot in elections.

On Wednesday, several Democrats filed a lawsuit in Corpus Christi federal court to keep Texas from enforcing the law.

The lawsuit claims that the requirement to show a state-issued photo ID card at the ballot box is unconstitutional according to a report by the Dallas Morning News.

Yet, some Central Texans and local election officials are already bracing for the change.

"They've been talking about this for a while and I think we've been thinking this was eventually going to happen," McLennan County Elections Administrator Kathy Van Wolfe said.

Van Wolfe says her office began bracing for the change when SB 14 was introduced in 2011.

But now that the bill is a reality, she and her office are starting to prepare for this November when some city and school board elections will be held.

"There will be some additional paperwork that will be different and new,” Van Wolfe said.

“There will be some new rules and regulations that we'll have to train our election judges for.”

Checking IDs for every voter might make lines longer on Election Day, bringing about another issue for officials to tackle.

"Some precincts will experience some delay time,” Bell County Elections Official Shelley Coston said.

“But it will be our focus to efficiently train election workers so that we can streamline the process and get voters in and out in a quick manner.”

Most central Texans News 10 talked with on the street said they support the change.

“It's a great idea, cuts down on all the fraudulent voters," resident Jeff Jefferies said.

Others were skeptical.

"I've always taken my license but there are some in the Spanish community where I work that don’t have a license and it might discourage them to vote," barber Eric Snell said.

DPS will begin taking applications for Election Identification Certificates to anyone who doesn’t already have a valid form of ID to vote with.

The certificates are free and to qualify a person must prove they are a U.S. citizen and a Texas resident.

The valid forms of ID that voting locations will accept are listed below.
• Texas driver 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 concealed handgun license issued by DPS
• United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
• United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
• United States passport

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