Voter ID Basics
What You Need
If you have questions or need help obtaining a photo ID for voting, please email email@example.com or call 1-844-TXVotes.
In order to vote in Texas, you will need to bring ONE (1) of the following documents to your polling place:
1. TX Driver’s License issued by DPS
2. TX Personal ID card issued by DPS
3. TX concealed handgun license issued by DPS
4. US military ID card showing your photo
5. US citizenship certiﬁcate showing your photo
6. US passport book or card
7. Election ID Certiﬁcate (EIC) issued by DPS
Must be current or expire no more than 60 days of the date of presentation (IDs with no expiration date are considered current).
- People with disabilities can apply for an exemption to the photo id requirement by filling out the filling out the Request For Permanent Exemption Form and mailing it to your county’s Voter Registrar. For more information or assistance contact Disability Rights Texas at 888-796-8683 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Voters who have a consistent religious objection to being photographed
- Voters who do not have any valid form of photo identification as a result of certain natural disasters (within 45 days of the election) as declared by the President of the United States or the Texas Governor,
- Voters with a temporary exemption may vote a provisional ballot, appear at the voter registrar’s office within six (6) calendar days after election day, and sign an affidavit swearing to the religious objection or natural disaster, in order for your ballot to be counted. Please contact your county voter registrar for more details.
Q : Can the religious objection/emergency disaster form be submitted with a provisional ballot at the polls?
A: No. The voter must go to the Voter Registration office during the cure period and fill out the form there for his vote to be counted. There is no other option.
Q: What if a person with an exemption loses his certificate and doesn’t have one of the forms of acceptable ID? Are there other forms of ID for those who are photo exempt?
A: SOS states that, in order to vote a regular ballot, every voter must present an acceptable form of ID or if exempt, a VR card with the exemption notation. If a voter who is exempt loses his VR card, the voter will have to show one of the 7 forms of acceptable ID or vote provisionally. The voter can appear during the cure period to provide evidence to Voter Registration that s/he is who he says he is and that he is exempt from showing photo ID.
Name, Address and Photo Matching
- Your name on your ID must match your name on the registered voters list.
- If your name is exactly the same on both, you will be allowed to vote a regular ballot without doing anything extra. Exact = Regular.
- If your name is "substantially similar" you will be allowed to vote a regular ballot after signing an affidavit. Substantially Similar = Regular + Affidavit.
- If your name is not substantially similar, you will be required to vote provisionally and will have until 6 days after the election to go to the county voter registrar's office and present valid id so that your identity can be confirmed and your ballot can be counted. Not Similar = Provisional.
You can find out how your name is listed on your voter registration by clicking here. NOTE: The function to find your registration record using your drivers license number doesn't always work. If you get a "voter not found" error, use the Last Name, First Name search instead.
The “substantially similar” names protocols can be found at http://tinyurl.com/subsimname. Election worker training on substantially similar names can be found here. Take a look to see if your name on your id you will be using to vote would be considered substantially similar to your name on your voter registration based on these guidelines.
- For the purposes of voting, the address on your id and the address on your voter registration do not have to match. The id is to prove your identity, not your residency. However, if the addresses do not match, you probably need to update either your id or your registration for other purposes.
- You can update your voter registration online by clicking here.
NOTE: This service requires the audit number from your most current driver’s license or personal id to verify your identity. The audit number is unique to the card, so if you do not have the most current copy of your license or id with you, you will not be able to use this online feature. Go to the SOS website to complete a mailable application.
Q: Will the Secretary of State (SOS) compile a list of common acceptable similar names/customary variations for use by poll workers?
A: Probably not. SOS says they have attempted to come up with a list but it is long and doesn’t seem useful for every county.
Q: What are the field protocols for the “substantially similar” name? Are the name fields the only consideration when determining identity?
A: A voter’s name is considered substantially similar if one or more of the following circumstances applies:
1. The name on the ID is slightly different from one or more of the name fields on the official list of registered voters.
2. The name on the voter’s ID or on list of registered voters is a customary variation of the voter’s formal name. For example, Bill for William, or Beto for Alberto.
3. The voter’s name contains an initial, middle name, or former name that is either not on the official list of registered voters or on the voter’s ID.
4. A first name, middle name, former name or initial of the voter’s name occupies a different field on the presented ID document than it does on the list of registered voters.
According to SOS, poll workers should try their best to determine that the person is who he says he is. If the name is similar, and the address and the DOB are the same and other information is the same, then it can be concluded the person is the person on the list. In such a case, the voter should be able to vote regularly without having to go through the provisional process. The voter will still have to sign the similar name affidavit.
Q: Does the photo have to match the person standing before the poll worker or will just the name and other attributes be reviewed?
A: SOS recommends a poll worker use the “totality of the circumstances” when qualifying the voter by not just comparing a voter’s image, but their name, address and date of birth in determining whether or not to accept the voter. SOS says they understand that a voter may have an ID that while unexpired and on the list of the seven acceptable forms of ID, may not contain a photograph that reflects their current appearance.
If the ID presented by the voter does not allow the poll worker to confirm the voter’s identity, the voter may offer another form of acceptable ID, should s/he choose. If the voter does not offer another form of acceptable ID, s/he should be offered a provisional ballot and provided with a Notice to Provisional Voter. Within six days of the election, the voter may visit the Voter Registrar and provide official documentation reflecting a name change, a certificate from a licensed physician or other official documentation that will allow the Voter Registrar to verify the identity of the voter. Alternatively, the voter may also execute an affidavit stating that s/he is the same person.
Voting By Mail
Voters over 65 or who have a disability automatically qualify to vote by mail. Mail ballot voters do not need to present an id (unless is their first time voting in a federal election in that jurisdiction). Get a vote by mail application or Learn more about voting by mail.
Q: What is the “cure period”?
A: All voters who come to the polls without proper photo id will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot and then go to the county voter registrar’s office within 6 days of Election Day (aka the “cure period”) and present a valid id so that their ballot will be counted.
Q: Is the Voter registrar required to be open during all 6 calendar days of the cure period?
A: According to SOS, a Voter Registrar is only required to be open during regular business hours.
How To Get It
Election Identification Certificate
You can get an EIC at any Department of Public Safety office and many EIC mobile locations. Click on the link below for locations and hours.
You must bring with you:
- Your Birth Certificate - born in Texas? Click here
- OR another document verifying citizenship (Click here for list)
Q: Can I use the birth certificate issued by the hospital when I was born?
A: no. It must be an original or certified copy of your birth certificate issued by the government. However, you can use your hospital issued birth record as a Supporting Document.
- AND any Two (2) of the following:
- Social Security card
- Voter registration card (call or email the county voter registrar for replacement) http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/votregduties.shtml
- School records
- Medicare or Medicaid card
- ID card issued by a government agency
- Unexpired insurance policy
- Expired Texas ID
- Marriage License or Divorce Decree (in Texas go to www.texas.gov for info)
- Click here for the full list.
Several other types of supporting documents can be ordered through www.texas.gov
More information can be found at http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/electionID.htm
Q: Can I use an out of state id as proof of identity to get an EIC?
A: Yes, as long as it is unexpired or expired within two years.
Q: What if I have changed my name?
A: If you have changed your name at any point in life (marriage, divorce, adoption, etc.) and need to apply for an EIC, you will need to bring documents evidencing the change to your legal name. The proof of the name change can be one of the required Supporting Documents or can be in addition to the required EIC documents.
Q: Will DPS run a warrant check when I apply for an EIC?
A: If you are applying for an EIC, the DPS agents are not supposed to be running a warrant check. However, if you decide to pay the $16 to get a Texas personal id instead of an EIC (a personal id can be used as id for more than just voting), then a warrant check will be run.
Q: Is my voter registration certificate useless now?
A: No. In fact, you should bring your voter registration certificate with you when you go to the polls because you may need it as proof that you are registered to vote. If you have accidentally been left off the voter registration list (which occasionally happens due to human error), your voter registration card proves that you are registered and you will be allowed to vote.
Still have questions? Try http://votetexas.gov/faq/