By CLINT FOSTER
Election season is right around the corner. It is a joyous season of annoying political ads and arguments, hot-button discussions and candidate signs all over town. But, above all, it is the time when Americans can exercise the primary right that makes this nation so wonderful: the ability to create positive change and an impact on both society and government through the process of voting.
With the general election looming this November and early voting starting as soon as Oct. 21, the Palo Pinto County Elections Department wanted to remind local voters of important changes associated with the new voter identification laws.
Palo Pinto County Election Administrator Judith Evans said local voters need to remember that they now need to bring with them photo identification to vote at any polling station. According to a press release from the election department, voters must show one of the following valid forms of identification:
• Texas driver’s license.
• Texas Election Identification Certificate (issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety).
• Texas personal identification card (issued by DPS).
• Texas concealed handgun license.
• U.S. military identification card containing the voter’s photo.
• U.S. citizenship certificate containing voter photo.
• U.S. passport.
Evans said it is imperative that voters double check these forms of identification to ensure that their names match with their voter registration. She said she wanted to caution women voters in particular.
“Often whenever [women] get married, they use their maiden name as their middle name, but sometimes they don’t change that [on their voter registration] and when they register to vote, when they’re 18, they use their middle name and they don’t change that information,” Evans said. “They’ll be required to sign an affidavit at the polls if it doesn’t match.”
As in any election, Evans said voters must also be sure that their address is correct and up-to-date. She said voters should check this information 30 days prior to an election to make sure they vote in the correct precinct.
If a prospective voter cannot provide a valid form of identification, Evans said they can vote provisionally on a paper ballot.
“You always get that option,” she said. “It’s a paper ballot that goes to our ballot board. From there, the ballot board does further research into if the voter is indeed a registered voter or not. So the ballot may or may not count.”
Another alternative, according to the release, is for voters 65 or older to vote by mail. The photo identification requirement only applies to voters casting a ballot in person.
Voters can look up their registration status and make updates to their registration online at votetexas.gov or call the Palo Pinto County Election Department at 940-659-1217.
For those who have yet to register, Evans said her office is scheduling voter registration drives in the coming months. Two, in particular, are already on the calendar: the first at Southside Church of Christ in Mineral Wells on Sept. 14, and the second at Clark Gardens on Oct. 5 – in accordance with the Parker County Elections Department. Evans added people can check the status of their voter registration or simply ask questions at these events as well.
“By preparing now, voters can help make sure voting goes smoothly when it comes time for the election,” she said.
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