Early voting is underway for the November 4 election and a last-minute appeals-court ruling means Texas’ controversial voter-identification law will remain in effect for the election, despite a federal judge’s ruling that the legislation is discriminatory and illegal.
Just two days before early voting began, the Supreme Court ruled Texas can implement the law, but the nation’s highest court offered no reasoning. The ruling is specific to the November 4 election, so expect more news as opponents and proponents will continue to battle in the courts.
In 2013, Senate Bill 14, which requires photo identification to cast a vote in any election in Texas, became the law of the land.
Some people didn’t like that much, calling it a poll tax that would discourage and confuse voters. The state’s Republican politicians, however, love the law, saying it will curb voter fraud. There is no evidence of rampant voter fraud in Texas, though it does happen.
There was much uncertainty about whether it would be enforced because on October 13 a federal judge issued a permanent and final injunction against the law. The injunction was lifted the next day by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which reasoned that it was following the Supreme Court’s directive to preserve the status quo in the run-up to an election to prevent inconsistent application of the law and confusion.
Mission accomplished? Maybe not, but at least voters know what they need to vote.
So bring a driver’s license or other form of state-issued identification while this madness plays out—and keep it handy for the spring, too. Texas’ Voter ID law could end up at the Supreme Court before it’s struck down for good. There are a few other things to know before heading out to the polls.
If you haven’t registered to vote, you’re out of luck and will not be able to cast a ballot in this election. If you have registered, you need to find your polling location. The Bexar County Elections Department has a handy and easy-to-use application for this on its website.
And while there’s been a lot of media coverage of the fight between gubernatorial candidates Senator Wendy Davis and Attorney General Greg Abbott, there are way more races on the November ballot. You can see a complete list here.
Now, back to voter ID. You do have an option if you do not already have a driver’s license or another form of state-issued identification, military identification, a passport, a naturalization certificate or a U.S. citizenship certificate. You can apply for an Election Identification Card, which is issued at Department of Public Safety offices and will be accepted at polling locations. Select DPS offices will be open Saturdays through Election Day. For more information about the EIC process call Bexar County Elections at 335-VOTE. Complete Bexar County elections information can be found at elections.bexar.org.