Election officials prepare for voter ID's next big test

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by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on November 4, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 7:40 PM

AUSTIN -- As election workers make final preparations for the big day, administrators across the state are watching for any hiccups in the first election where Texas voters are required to show photo identification before casting a vote. 
 
"That means a DPS-issued driver license or personal ID card, concealed handgun license, U.S.-issued passport, citizenship certificate or military ID," says a new video released by Texas Secretary of State John Steen. 
 
The seventh form of acceptable identification is a free Texas Election Identification Certificate (EIC) issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). This ID requires corroborating documents such as a birth certificate along with secondary or supporting identification.
 
Despite a surprising number of disparities between names on IDs versus those in the voter registration database, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says things have been going smoothly. 
 
"The issue is quickly resolved at the polling place," DeBeauvoir told KVUE last week. "They just have to sign or initial on the sign-up sheet the box that says, 'I have a similar name, not an exact name.'" 
 
As of this week Travis County elections officials say just four of the nearly 32,000 who voted early in person filled out a provisional ballot because of substantially dissimilar names that could not be resolved at the polling place.
 
But with early voting turnout in the single digits across Texas, administrators in several Central Texas counties say initial conclusions are difficult to draw. As the state's top election official, Steen says the roll-out has been uneventful. Meeting with DeBeauvoir and media Monday, Steen said his focus is on informing voters of the new rules.
 
"The goal of all of this is to have every eligible voter vote and have that vote counted," Steen said.
 
Items driving turnout Tuesday include Prop. 6, a constitutional election which would divert $2 billion from the state's rainy day fund to finance water projects. 
 
In parts of North Austin and Northeast Travis County, the emergency election to replace retired state Rep. Mark Strama (D-Austin) is a four-way battle between Democrats Celia Israel, Rico Reyes and Jade Chang Sheppard. Republican Mike VanDeWalle is also on the ballot.
 
Austin voters will also consider a $65 million affordable housing bond after a similar one failed last year.
 
For the voter ID law election Tuesday will bring another day of close scrutiny. Unlike during early voting, those with issues at the polls on Tuesday could find themselves with few options and little time to pursue them.
 
"It's all kind of difficult since this is our first time to figure [it] out," DeBeauvoir said Monday. "But we're going to collect statistics on this."

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Go here for voter information and polling locations.

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