Ahead of Election Day, the Texas Secretary of State Says He’s Monitoring Voter ID Issues | KERA News

Ahead of Election Day, the Texas Secretary of State Says He’s Monitoring Voter ID Issues

Nov 1, 2016
Originally published on November 13, 2016 5:28 pm

The state’s top election official says he’s doing all he can to make sure counties are following a court order regarding the state’s voter ID law.

Earlier this year, a federal appeals court struck down the controversial law and a federal court ordered the state allow people to vote, even if they had trouble getting a photo ID.

Since early voting began just over a week ago, voters in counties all across the state have been reporting problems with the recent voter ID changes, though. Mostly, they say there are issues with posters and poll workers misleading voters about how they can ID themselves when they vote.

During a stop in Austin at Huston-Tillotson University, Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos said he’d heard about the issues and was taking the matter seriously.

“I think we have done everything humanly possible in order to make sure that every election office in the state of Texas has the information and the tools necessary,” he said.

The rules are that a government-issued photo ID is no longer the only way to identify yourself when you vote in person. Under the court order, Texas voters can use other government documents – as long as they have a name and address.

”I think anytime there is an issue regarding voter integrity, it is a reason to be concerned,” Cascos told reporters. “And we will follow up. We will monitor under our office. Whatever it is that we can do.”

But voting rights advocates like Nina Perales, a lawyer with the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), say more needs to be done.

“Neither the Secretary of State or the counties are doing enough right now to fix this situation,” she says.

MALDEF has been keeping a close eye on voter ID issues in the state and they recently got a judge to order Bexar County to follow the court-ordered rules.

Perales says, ultimately, counties administer elections, but it’s the state’s responsibility to make they have the right information and are following the law.

“To some extent this is the responsibility of the Secretary of State,” she says. “They dropped the ball when it came to clearly explaining to the counties that they had update their materials and instructions, but a good share of responsibility also falls on the counties for not being ready.”

Perales says voters are the ones who eventually pay for all this. All this bad information at polling sites, she explains, means that some voters were likely deterred from voting.

Early voting ends Friday Nov. 4, and Election day is Nov. 8. Voting rights groups are running a helpline. They say if there are issues at the polls, voters should call the Election Protection Hotline.

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