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Yes, you can vote without a government ID in Texas

Yes, you can vote without a government ID in Texas

Yes, you can vote without a government ID in Texas
September 21
14:11 2016

If the two most unfavorable presidential candidates in recent history don’t deter many from voting, the complications and confusion that surrounds Texas’ voter ID laws just might.

A federal judge ruled Tuesday, just five weeks before early voting starts, that Texas’ voter ID laws violate the state’s agreement with the justice department that was reached in July. The agreement was that the state would change its voter ID laws so that their laws would no longer discriminate against minority voters.

“They’re very complicated rules, and the state of Texas has been fighting this issue with the justice department with some number of years now,” said Sandy Swan, precinct development chair for the Denton County Democratic Party. “That’s where our side is saying that this is going to be even more confusing to voters. [Voters are] not going to understand that there are two types of ID.”

In July, the Fifth Circuit court ruled that Texas’ 2011 voter ID law which stipulates the types of photo identification that can be accepted at the polls violates the Voting Rights Act. The 2011 law stated that voters must have a government issued photo ID to vote. When the court struck down Texas’ law, the state agreed to soften its regulations.

Texas and the court compromised and said that additional forms of ID could be accepted if the voter signs an affidavit saying they “cannot reasonably obtain” one of the seven forms of ID, as dictated by the 2011 law.

However, during Texas’ education campaign, the state changed the wording from “cannot obtain” and “have not obtained” the ID. The justice department is now arguing that the language is misleading, and will discourage minority voters from going to the polls. This raised concern for those who feel that voting is one if the rights that should be protected for everyone under the constitution.

“Our most fundamental right is to vote,” Swan said. “If you can’t vote, how do you have a say? Voting is the most underlying right we have.”

However, not everyone agrees with Swan’s view that voting is a right that should be given to all.

“I personally do not believe voting is a right,” said Lisa Hendrickson, Chairperson of the Denton County Republican Party. “I believe it is a privilege and one that should be shown a great deal of respect. Each voter should take the time and do their due diligence in as it relates to educating themselves on the issues and the candidates.”

At the polls in November voters may present any of these forms of photo ID: a Texas driver’s license, a Texas election identification certificate, a Texas personal identification card, a Texas handgun license, a U.S. military ID card, a U.S. citizenship certificate or a U.S. passport.

“In the state of Texas there are 600,000 registered voters that do not have one of the original types of ID’s,” Swan said. “There are some parts of west Texas where you have to drive 100s of miles to get to a DPS to obtain an ID.”

However if a voter does not have one of these forms of ID, they should not be discouraged from voting. The originals of these documents will also be accepted at the polls, as long as they are paired with a signed reasonable impediment declaration: valid voter registration certificate, a certified birth certificate, a current utility bill, copy of bank statement, a government check, a paycheck, or any government document with your name and address.

According to 2014 data from the census bureau, 21.3 percent of people in the city of Denton live in poverty, and according to the 2010 data 38 percent of Denton’s residents are minority races. While the 2011 voting identification law will most likely continue to be up in the air, in the meantime a presidential election is happening, and its important that everyone understands that there is a way for all citizens to vote, regardless if they have a government issued ID.

UNT student Geritt Davenport, a music composition freshman, said that students need to vote, and that he doesn’t think Texas’ voting ID laws are a bad thing.

“Voting is important because you can’t complain about stuff if you didn’t contribute,” Davenport said. “I feel like [requiring ID] is a necessary thing that makes voting legitimate.”

In an effort to make voting easier for those in Denton County, and on the UNT campus, an additional early voting location will be at UNT’s Gateway Center. Students who would like to vote can register with their school address, as long as they are not registered elsewhere.

Students can register to vote until October 11.

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Tiffany Ditto

Tiffany Ditto

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