As the March primary election approaches, election officials throughout the state are gearing up for potential problems. This March 4 primary will be the biggest election since the state’s Voter ID law, which requires voters to show government issued photo identification at the polls, went into effect last year. Dallas election officials have sent out hundreds of thousands of notes to voters informing them of potential problems with the way their names are listed on photo ID cards versus the way they are listed in the voter registration database. Tarrant County officials chose not to sent out notes, saying any name problem can be handled at the polls. “We are taking a different approach and we will let voters handle it at the polling place,” said Steve Raborn, Tarrant County’s election administrator. “You could send these postcards out and ask people if they want to match their names beforehand. “My greater concern is that it might cause voter confusion and could even make someone not vote.”
State lawmakers approved the voter ID measure in 2011, but it didn’t go into effect in Texas elections until last year. Voter turnout this year is expected to be much greater.
As a result of the new law, officials say they’ve found that many voters’ names don’t identically match on a person’s voter registration card and photo ID.
Those with “substantially similar” names are allowed to sign an affidavit stating they are the same person.
“The Secretary of State’s guidelines are very broad,” Raborn said. “A name really has to be completely different to not be accepted. Differences in middle names, or name changes because of marriage or divorce, are easily taken care of.
“It’s a minor inconvenience to check a box at the polling site.”