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What Texas Voters Need to Know Before Heading to the Polls

Flickr user: Covernor Rick Perry,
Texas Governor Rick Perry after a cerimonial signing of Senate Bill 14, which requires voters to present photo IDs upon registration and at the polls.

With the November elections just over two months away, Texans around the state are registering or renewing their voter status. That is, if they first have a government-issued identification card.

Texas' voter ID law is currently being challenged in court by the U.S. Department of Justice, but until a decision is reached, Texans will be required to show an ID to register as voters. But what does this mean for voters in rural areas? Or for Texans who mail in their ballots? 

Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry is in charge of informing Texans of the voter ID law and how to register. Berry sits down with Texas Standard host David Brown to discuss the requirements for voter registration, and how to attain a government-issued ID before the November elections. 

Highlights from the interview:

On the effect of the ID law on voter turnout:

"It's the candidates who affect voter turnout. My role as the chief election officer of the state is to uphold our election laws, as you rightly pointed out. It's to enforce the will of the legislature. It is the law, in the state of Texas today, that a photo ID is required to go to the polls. I take it upon myself as my duty to inform Texans of the different kinds of ID and the information they need to go to the polls."

On Berry's opinion of the voter ID law:

"It is my role to ensure that our election is smooth, secure and successful. So my opinion really does not matter. What matters is the legislature opinion and the fact that this is the law that the legislature has passed. Now, what I can do is ensure that everybody has the information they need, they know it's the law and they know what kind of information they need."

On mobile voter ID units:

"We are working with the DPS and the DPS is cooperating with us in ensuring that every county that needs a unit will have a unit that voters have access--if don't have access to a brick-and-morter DPS station--will have access to a mobile unit. That's exactly why I'm traveling across the state early, way before the elections, hoping to enlist the help of media in getting that information out to people to go ahead and plan for the fact that they require an ID and telling them the ways they can go and get an ID."

On the 300 issued election identification certificates:

"It is a small number, but I think that is also a function of the number that are requested. The DPS can only issue an [Election Identification Certificate] (EIC) if it's requested. But the one number that we do know is, across the state, we have had very, very few reports of any significant issues as far as photo ID. Voters have come to the polls and have shown their IDs, and the few who have not have got an EIC, and some have cast a provisional ballot, which is when you come to the polls and you don't have a photo ID, you can still cast a provisional ballot and then you have six days to get a photo ID and show you are an eligible voter." 

On showing ID at the polls:

"If you go to the polls in person, you are required by the state of Texas, the legislature, to take a photo ID. Now, if you are 65 years or older, or disabled, and certain other exceptions, and you vote by mail, voting by mail does not require a photo ID."

David entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An inveterate political junkie with a passion for pop culture and the romance of radio, David has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston for Monitor Radio and for NPR, and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and points across the United States and Europe. He is, perhaps, known most widely for his work as host of public radio's Marketplace. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Texas full-time in 2005, Brown joined the staff of KUT, launching the award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters."
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