There is a certain irony in the fact that while the Texas Photo Voter ID law is under court challenge by Democrats and the U.S. Department of Justice as being cumbersome and discriminatory, you can vote by mail without the need for a photo ID.
In other words, to cast a ballot at an in-person voting place during early voting or on election day, you’ll have to show a valid government-issued photo identification card. Those include a Texas driver’s license, a photo ID card issued free by the Texas Department of Public Safety, a military ID, a citizenship certificate with a photo, or a passport.
But if you apply for a ballot to vote by mail or by fax, no photo is required.
Of course, in each of these situations, you have to be registered to vote. If you’re not already on the rolls and want to vote in the Nov. 4 general election, your registration application must be received by your county voter registrar or postmarked on or before Oct. 6. If you’re not sure whether you’re registered, check with the registrar in your county.
If you do need to register, applications are available at most post offices, libraries, high schools, and government offices and can be downloaded from the Texas Secretary of State’s website (or votetexas.gov). Fill it out and mail it or fax it to your county voter registrar. You can also register in person at the voter registrar’s office.
Now, you can vote by mail if you are:
• going to be out of the county where you
• are registered on election day (Nov. 4) and during early voting (Oct. 20-31);
• disabled or sick;
• 65 years old or older on election day; or in jail, but eligible to vote.
If you don’t meet one of those four criteria, you must vote in person.
To request a vote-by-mail ballot, your request must have been received — not just postmarked — by your county voter registrar by Oct. 24. That’s a Friday.
Major political parties and some candidates are pushing vote-by-mail ballot requests, some already personalized. The campaign of George P. Bush for land commissioner, for instance, has an invitation to vote by mail, complete with instructions.
However, the Bush message incorrectly says “Tuesday, November 4th is the last day for your Early Voting Clerk to receive an application for ballot by mail for the November 4th General Election.” As mentioned above, the cut-off is actually Friday, Oct. 24.
The ballot itself must be received by 7 p.m. on election day unless overseas rules apply.
If some party or candidate hasn’t already sent you a vote-by-mail ballot request form, you can request one online from the Secretary of State’s office. The form will be mailed to you to fill out.
Or you can download the form from the Secretary of State’s website, print it out, and mail or fax it to your county voter registrar — not to the Secretary of State. That office warns on its website in big red capital letters that any ballot requests sent there will be rejected.
If you have any questions about any of these procedures, you can get help by either calling the Secretary of State’s office at 1-800-252-VOTE or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Requiring a photo ID to vote in person but not by mail seems sort of like going through a body scanner to get into the Texas capitol unless you’ve got a Concealed Handgun License. While apparently frisking everyone else for guns, they let pass the folks who probably are packing heat.
Oh, well. After all, this is Texas.
Veteran Texas political journalist Dave McNeely can be contacted at email@example.com.