To vote in Texas, you must present approved photo identification unless you meet certain disability requirements, obtain an exemption or vote by mail. You must also be registered to vote at least 30 days before an election. This means you must register by Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, to vote in the election on Tuesday, Nov. 5, which includes nine proposed constitutional amendments.
A variety of advocacy groups can help you understand the registration process, new voter ID requirements, voting rights and related information. The new Go Vote! website is especially helpful, offering three steps to follow and tips to be sure you can vote under the state’s new requirements. "Voting is our right," Go Vote! proclaims, "and we want to make sure you have what you need to vote."
Types of ID Required to Vote in Texas
You must have one of three types of documentation to vote in person:
- An approved form of identification with your photo on it, which can be a driver’s license or state-issued ID; passport; military ID, Texas concealed handgun license, or naturalization or citizenship certificate with an ID.
- An Election Identification Certificate (EIC), which is a photo ID that is only for voting.
- An exemption from the photo ID requirement for some individuals with disabilities as determined by the U.S. Social Security Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs.
Election Identification Certificates
The EIC is a photo ID for use when voting that you can only get if you do not have one of the approved forms of state or national photo IDs, such as a Texas driver’s license or ID card. It can only be obtained by going to specific Texas Department of Public Safety driver’s license offices. While there is no cost to get the certificate, you must provide legal documentation of your citizenship and identity, such as a certified birth certificate — which you may have to buy — plus two other items from a list of allowable documents. You also must bring your voter registration card when applying for an EIC, or submit a voter registration application while at the DPS office. About 50 driver’s license offices have expanded hours for people who want to apply for this certificate on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. through Nov. 2, 2013, in addition to their regular weekday hours.
Photo ID Exemption for People with Disabilities
If you have a disability but do not have photo identification, you may qualify for a permanent exemption from that requirement. To qualify, you must provide a benefit verification letter from the Social Security Administration that shows you have a disability or proof from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs of a disability rating of 50 percent or more. You can request a benefit verification letter from the SSA online or by calling (800) 772-1213. To apply for this exemption, contact your county’s voter registration office. For more information or assistance obtaining an exemption, contact Disability Rights Texas toll-free at (888) 796-8683 or by email.
To Vote by Mail without an ID or Exemption
Registered voters with a disability can request an Application for a Ballet by Mail, without having to provide a photo ID or proof of disability. To vote this way in the past, however, you had to request an application before each election. Starting on Jan. 1, 2014, individuals with a disability will only have to apply to vote by mail once per calendar year. This also applies to voters who are 65 or older.
Register to Vote
If you are not registered to vote already, you can get an application online or at various locations such as libraries and post offices, which you can complete, sign and mail. You can also complete the application at your county’s voter registration office.
Organizations That Provide More Information and Assistance
A variety of advocacy organizations can help you register to vote, obtain an ID or with voting rights.
Go Vote! is an easy to understand website that pulls together information on "What You Need" to vote, "How to Get It" and "Go Vote!" It also offers important things to remember that are hard to find elsewhere. If you are not sure that you have what you need to vote, you can fill out a form on the website and they will let you know. If you have a problem trying to vote, you can call toll-free (866) OUR-VOTE [866-687-8683]. Go Vote! is a project of the Texas Civic Engagement Table, Empower The Vote Texas, and the Go Vote! coalition.
Disability Rights Texas helps individuals with disabilities in Texas who need help registering to vote, who have general questions about the voting process, or who feel their rights have been violated or any issues with voter ID. The protection and advocacy organization has a Web page on Voting Rights Resources, which contains information on the New Voter ID Law in Texas/Options for Voters with a Disability, voting rights, registration and accessibility, plus links to find out if you are registered to vote and other resources. If you have questions about your voting rights or to report a violation, call the Disability Rights Texas Voter Rights Hotline at (888) 796-VOTE (8683) or
ADAPT’s Disability Voting Action Project is a new project to increase involvement by people with disabilities and their supporters in the election and political process. It plans to provide information on the voting process and candidates’ positions on disability issues to help establish the disability community as an educated, strong and mobilized voting constituency.
Go Vote! website — govotetexas.org
Locate a Texas Driver’s License Office, txdps.state.tx.us/administration/driver_licensing_control/rolodex/search.asp
Request a benefit verification letter from Social Security Administration, ssa.gov/pgm/getservices-change.htm
Locate Texas County Voter Registration Offices, sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/votregduties.shtml
Disability Rights Texas Voting Rights Resources, disabilityrightstx.org/resources/voting-rights
Photo ID Exemption Assistance contact Disabilities Disability Rights Texas Voting Rights Email, email@example.com
Request an Application for a Ballet by Mail, sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/reqabbm.shtml
Register to Vote online, sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/reqvr.shtml
New Voter ID Law in Texas/Options for Voters with a Disability, Voter ID Flyer PDF
Are you registered to vote? Texas Electionet Administration System My Voter Page
Disability Rights Texas Voter Rights Hotline email, firstname.lastname@example.org