Greg Abbott, left, Wendy Davis, right


Monday, Oct. 6 is last day to register in time to vote this November

James Russell  |  Staff Writer


If you want to vote in the Nov. 4 general election in Texas but have not gotten around to registering, you still have time.

But not that much time.

voteTo be eligible to vote, Texans must be 18; not convicted of a felony without having finished a sentence or parole; and live in the county where they submit their voter registration application.

The next step is to fill out a voter registration form, available in libraries and post offices, and submit it to the county elections office by close of business on Monday, Oct. 6. The form must be presented in person or postmarked by that date.

Even then, the task is not complete. Without photo identification, your vote will not count.

In 2011, the Texas Legislature passed a voter identification law requiring voters to present some form of photo identification. The debate on the bill was bitterly partisan and divisive. Democrats alleged the law was akin to a poll tax and a ploy to discourage the minority vote. Republicans claimed they were fighting voter fraud.

Texas is among 34 states to have passed some form of voter ID law, requiring voters to prove their identity before they vote. Though forms of ID vary among the states, Texas is one of 10 states requiring voters present a government-issued photo ID at the polls.

Among the seven forms of identification accepted in Texas, most common are a passport or driver’s license. But if you don’t have one of those to prove yourself, you instead have to go to the Department of Public Safety to get a voter ID card.

Photo IDs are like driver’s licenses that only list your name. Though the card is free of charge, providing a proof of residency, like a gas bill or pay stub, is another obstacle.

Transgender people living in a state with voter identification laws, according to a report from the Williams Institute, may face some of the biggest obstacles at the ballot box. Of the 25,160 eligible trans voters in Texas, 6,793 — 27 percent — do not have an updated ID or even updated records.

To ensure voters are able to get registered in time, Texas has established multiple temporary and mobile voter registration sites.

Tarrant County Elections Administrator Frank Phillips said his staff is well equipped to address any issues facing voters, including transgender issues. He said he hasn’t noticed any unusual problems, nor has he seen an unusual number of last minute registration applications.

“But,” he said, “we have seen an increase in voter registration. It’s a governor’s race, which heightens the interest.”

Talia Sampson, a deputy voter registrar in Dallas, agreed.

“The 2014 governor and lieutenant governor races are the closest they’ve been since Rick Perry first assumed office,” Sampson said. “With [state senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Wendy Davis just single digits behind Attorney General [and Republican nominee] Greg Abbott, every vote is going to matter this election.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 3, 2014.