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U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez Making Sure Election Supervisors Don't Turn Voters Away

Chris Eudaily | Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio

Congressman Charlie Gonzalez is reminding voters and election workers that picture IDs are not required to cast a ballot in Texas. He spoke to Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade about reinforcing the message that Texas has no Voter ID law. 

Congressman Gonzalez was upset last week to read that a Dallas Morning News columnist was asked for a driver’s license when he presented a utility bill at the polling station.

Wayne Slater said he was asked to present a voter-registration card or a driver’s license. According to Slater’s editorial, there were several layers of questions and answers and the intervention of a supervisor before he was allowed to cast his ballot.

Rich Parsons, spokesman for the Texas State Department, said the system worked.

"Well, clearly, the system worked as it should," said Parsons. "The reporter showed up with an approved ID and was allowed to cast a ballot."

Gonzalez disagreed.

"If it had been a less sophisticated or educated voter, and what I mean by educated is educated on voter requirements, they would have been turned away," said Gonzalez.

Slater wrote that the election judge mistyped his name and said he was not a registered voter. A second supervisor found the error, it was fixed, and Slater was allowed to vote.

Gonzalez said he asked Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade to send out an additional memo to local elections supervisors stressing the importance of making it easy for people to cast their ballots.

"And that an election official cannot have a preference of one acceptable form of ID over another. And it can be a driver's license. It can be a passport. It can be a photo ID, but there again, only if you don't have your voter registration card," said Gonzalez.

Parsons said in Slater’s case, a supervisory election judge stepping in to make sure he could vote is what was supposed to happen.  He said the Secretary’s office has been working to educate election volunteers on the law -- and that is, that no photo ID is required to vote in Texas.

"We have, over the course of the last year, many times provided that information to elections administrators across the state, we've engaged voters through a multiple means to pass along the information that no photo ID is required this election," said Parsons. "We've worked very hard to get that message out to our elections administrators, to our voters -- and with your help, we can continue to get that message out. That no photo ID is required in this election."

Gonzalez said many people don’t know how extensive the list is of documents that will allow people to vote without a photo.

"Citizenship paper, a birth certificate, and any official mail addressed to the person by name from a government agency, or a copy of a current utility bill, a bank statement, a government check, a pay check, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter," said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said more information makes it easier for people to make their way to the polling locations to cast their ballots. 

More voter information available online:

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.