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Voting Early? Don't Forget Your Photo ID

KC Ivey

Early voting begins today for the Nov. 5 election -- for the first time, Texans will have to show valid photo IDs at the polls.

It’s a result of a 2011 legislative decision that has been contested in the courts. 

Most registered voters have drivers’ licenses with their pictures on them and that’s what they’ll show election judges when they go to the polls.

Tarrant County Elections Supervisor Steve Raborn says you need to check the expiration date on your license to make sure it hasn’t been expired for more than 60 days.

“(That) might affect some senior voters who no longer drive and have an expired ID that’s good enough for their banking and other purposes,” Raborn said. “But if it’s expired more than 60 days, they won’t be able to use it for voting.”

In addition to drivers’ licenses, voters can show concealed handgun licenses, military cards, citizenship certificates and passports, all of which have photos.

Voters without any of those can get a free election identification certificate at a state driver’s license office as long as they show proof of citizenship.

Raborn says there’s also a way voters can cast their ballots if they forget and show up without their photo IDs.

“They can vote a provisional ballot and come into our office within six days of Election Day and show us their ID,” he said. 

Election officials don’t think the new requirement will cause too much confusion this election because turnout is expected to be low. 

Raborn is expecting a six to seven percent turnout in Tarrant County where more than $400 million in Fort Worth school bonds are on the ballot.

Plano schools will vote on a 13-cent property tax increase; Dallas will select a new District 8 school board trustee; and all Texans will decide whether to use $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day savings account to create a fund to finance water projects.

Early voting lasts for two weeks -- through Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 5.    

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.