Nearly 200,000 Dallas County voters have been told of possible problems with their identification, as county elections officials work to resolve complications arising from Texas’ new voter ID law before the March primary. The county elections department mailed out letters on Friday to alert voters to potential conflicts resulting from one part of the contentious law: the requirement that a voter’s name on a valid photo ID must exactly match the name listed in the voter registration database. That requirement could be particularly nettlesome for women, who are more likely to have changed their names after getting married or for other reasons, such as adopting their maiden names as middle names. The issue surfaced in the November election, when some voters complained about having to deal at the polls with name discrepancies. Those hiccups didn’t prevent anyone from voting. Elections officials created a relatively simple way to resolve the problem on the spot, but that added time to the act of voting. The letters — sent at a cost of $79,000 — represent a push by the county to allow voters to square things away before the March 4 primary. There’s a short form to fill out to reconcile differences between how names are listed on photo IDs and in the county’s voter database. The mailing offers the best glimpse yet of the scope and nature of ID problems among Dallas County’s 1.2 million registered voters.
Some who received the letter have expressed aggravation at having to deal with what amounts to small clerical differences. But officials hope the present effort will reduce confusion later.
“The more we can get it done now, the more convenient it will be at the polls for the voter,” said Toni Pippins-Poole, the county’s elections administrator.
Texas’ voter ID law passed in 2011 and took effect last summer. Voters must now present a government-issued photo ID. The seven approved forms of photo ID include a Texas driver’s license, a U.S. passport, and a new election ID certificate.
Republicans hail the law as a way to combat voter fraud and say complaints of inconvenience are overstated. Democrats say that claims of voter fraud are baseless and that the law is intended to disenfranchise minorities, who vote heavily Democratic.