Get IDs in order before voting

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By Ken Esten Cooke— New Texas voter ID laws will be enforced for the first time during the Nov. 5 election. The new requirements may pose problems, even for those with proper identification.

                If a person’s name on his ID card does not match the one on the registered voting rolls, there could be a problem. There are seven valid forms of acceptable ID under the new law, but voters need to make sure their voter registration is exactly the same.

                Acceptable forms of identification are a Texas driver’s license, military identification card with photo, U.S. citizenship certificate with photo, U.S. passport, a Texas concealed handgun license, or personal identification card or election identification certificate issues by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

                Persons without one of these and who wish to vote on Nov. 5 should head to the nearest Texas Department of Public Safety office to obtain a Texas Election Identification Certificate (EIC) at no charge. To qualify for an EIC, a person must be eligible to vote, be a U.S. citizen and Texas resident, and be 17 years and 10 months or older. Also, an EIC is valid for six years, and there is no expiration date for certificates issued to those ages 70 and older.

                 The next responsibility of voters is to make sure the name on their identification card or certificate matches that of the voter rolls. If not, changes must be submitted by Oct. 7, which is the last day to register for the Nov. 5 election. New voter cards will not be issued before the election, but the new information will be available to election officials at polling locations to help expedite the process. New voter cards will be issued by the end of the year.

                Election officials have some leeway to make calls on substantially similar names, such as “Robert” and “Bob” or “Alberto” and “Beto.” But if they can’t find an immediate similarity, the voter will have to cast a provisional ballot, and eligibility will be determined later.

                 Early voting begins Oct. 21, and this year’s ballot will include nine state constitutional amendments. Turnout for these elections is usually low, but it still is our patriotic duty to take part, and several important items — such as funding for water initiatives — are on the ballots.

                Some may consider having to show an ID a headache. But if you plan to take part, do your homework and prevent additional waits in the voting line.

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