Today, Congressman Al Green (TX-09) hosted a town hall meeting in Houston to inform the residents of the Ninth Congressional District about the new requirements established by the Texas Voter Identification Act of 2011.
Under the new law, acceptable forms of ID include: Driver's license; Election identification certificate; Texas Department of Public Safety personal ID card; U.S. Military ID; U.S. citizenship certificate; U.S. passport and license to carry a concealed handgun, issued by the Department of Public Safety.
The Congressman emphasized that all identification documents must include a photo of the voter. Additionally, the new law establishes that acceptable identification documents will be those that have not expired or that expired no earlier than 60 days before the date of presentation.
"I am hosting this town hall meeting because I want to make sure my constituents are well informed and that every person who is qualified can exercise his or her right to do so. It is important for members of the community to know how these new rules can impact them," indicated Congressman Al Green.
The Congressman also explained, "According to the new law, a voter who fails to present the required identification may cast a provisional ballot. In such case, and not later than the sixth day after the date of the election, the voter must present the required form of identification to the voter registrar for examination."
The new rules also contemplate the possibility of special provisions for voters who have a religious objection to being photographed or do not have identification as a result of a natural disaster declared by the President or the Governor. In such case, those voters may execute affidavits under penalty of perjury stating such circumstance in the presence of the voter registrar.
According to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the state of Texas must receive preclearance for changes to existing voting laws or political districts. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently reviewing the law --which is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2012-- for preclearance.
This week, on Thursday November 17, DOJ sent a letter to Texas election officials stating that the information they have provided does not enable the Department to determine that the proposed changes will not harm the right to vote due to race, color or membership in a language group. Subsequently, DOJ has specifically requested that Texas election officials provide information about the race and ethnicity of the state's voters.