Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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June 26, 2013

New law

County Elections Administrator awaits word on Voter ID bill

Athens — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Tuesday clears the way for enforcement of the now 2 year-old Texas Voter ID law  and will require some adjustments at the local level, Henderson County Elections Administrator Denise Hernandez said.

The state passed legislation in 2011 requiring voters to show photo identification when voting in person. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice denied the state’s application for preclearance of the bill, saying the state did not prove that the bill would not have a discriminatory effect on minority voters. The Supreme Court action on Tuesday cleared that obstacle.

“Laws are always changing,” Hernandez said. “We just have to find the best way to implement those changes.”

Hernandez said her office will be dealing with other changes adopted by the legislature in addition to the Voter ID law.

“Right now we’re not doing anything until we get an official list from the state,” Hernandez said.” “We’re kind of in a holding pattern.”

Hernandez said she will be looking at how other counties in the state handle the Voter ID change.

“Somebody like Dallas or Tarrant County are huge in comparison to someone like us,” Hernandez said. “Their budgets are bigger than ours and they can do things we’re not able to do. We’ll take all of the information from everywhere and do what is best for our county.”

Hernandez said the state will probably send notices to the voters of the requirement to present an ID when they go to vote.

“We’ll probably have to specify something on the card when we have them printed so the voter can catch that when they get their card,” Hernandez said.

The county election office will likely run some ads telling of the change, as well as posting information on the county website.

“We try to notify them by mail, but you’re talking about an additional 49,000 mailings,” Hernandez said. “So what we’ll probably do, since we have to send out voter registration cards at the end of the year, is implement that information on the card.”

Hernandez said a potential voter who does not already have an acceptable form of identification can apply for an Election Identification Certificate at no charge at the Texas Department of Public Safety driver’s license office.

The Voter ID law says the document presented must either be current or have expired no more than 60 days prior to being presented at a polling place. So Hernandez advises those who have to get an Election Identification Certificate to get the process started as soon as possible. The DPS began taking applications for the certificates on Wednesday.

A Secretary of State’s office news release listed several forms of photo identification that will be acceptable when casting a ballot.

• 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.

Voters with a disability can apply for a permanent exemption from the requirement if they meet certain guidelines. The law does not affect those who cast ballots by mail.

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