Voting procedures from 2016 in effect for November elections

The state’s voter identification policies used in the 2016 presidential election will remain in effect for the Nov. 7 election, based on a federal appeals court ruling in September that said it would minimize confusion among voters and election officials.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling said the temporary policies will stay in effect until the court can hear oral arguments on a new law enacted this year by the 85th Legislature, SB 5 by Huffman. The appeals court ruling stayed an August district court ruling that had blocked Texas from implementing SB 5, which the district court said perpetuated discriminatory features of SB 14 by Fraser, the state’s voter ID law enacted in 2011. SB 5 was enacted in response to what courts had said were discriminatory aspects of SB 14.

Under the temporary policies, voters who appear on the official list of registered voters may cast a regular ballot if they present one of the approved forms of ID that is not more than four years expired. This differs from the law established under SB 14, which allows a voter’s ID to be no more than 60 days expired. Voters who have an accepted form of photo ID but did not bring it to the polling place may cast a provisional ballot and bring the ID to the county voter registrar within six days after the election for their vote to be counted.

Voters without one of the seven approved documents may cast a regular ballot if they present a valid voter registration certificate, an original certified birth certificate, current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document with the voter’s name and address. These voters also must sign a reasonable impediment declaration, which specifies why they were prevented from getting one of the approved forms of photo ID.

The recently enacted SB 5 closely mirrors the temporary rules established in 2016 but adds the penalty of perjury for providing false information on the reasonable impediment declaration. SB 5 is set to take effect January 1, 2018. The case remains under consideration by the appeals court and oral arguments are scheduled to start in early December.

by Rita Barr

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