The state and Voter ID suit plaintiffs have jointly proposed a series of remedies for voters lacking required photo identification to participate in the upcoming general election.
A voter may utilize an expired photo identification, provided that it expired within the last four years, and it will be deemed to meet the photo identification requirements. No new forms of photo identification are included in the proposal.
A voter may also present a valid voter registration certificate, certified birth certificate, current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government-issued document that shows the voter’s name and address. The address does not have to match the address recorded in official voter lists. Voters utilizing this option would be required to sign a reasonable impediment declaration. Unlike the interim relief ordered for the HD120 special runoff election that permitted voters to cast provisional ballots, voters using this option would cast a regular ballot in the general election. Also, the document is now considered a “declaration” rather than an “affidavit.”
The declaration shall have Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese translations. Election officials will not be allowed to question the reasonableness of the voter’s impediment to obtaining required photo identification.
An option available for the HD120 special runoff election appears to have been dropped by the new agreement. Voters could have utilized the last four digits of their social security numbers and date of birth to assert their identification.
The state shall develop a “detailed voter education plan” no later than August 15 and pledge to spend at least $2.5 million to educate voters. The state will also develop a “detailed election official training program” by August 15.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi must approve the proposed remedy before it can take effect. She previously approved an agreed-to deal on the interim relief in place for the HD120 special runoff election. No one took advantage of the option to vote without required photo identification, which is not unexpected given the short lead time to inform voters about the new options and the lack of turnout generally.
The proposed agreement is not the last word in the matter. Plaintiffs were expected to file a motion requesting additional remedies to which the state did not agree. Additionally, in a statement, AG Ken Paxton said he is continuing to evaluate “all options moving forward,” including appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but agreed to the interim relief proposal “given the time constraints of the November elections and the direction of the Fifth Circuit.”