Chances are the name on your voter registration card doesn’t match that on your driver’s license, and that could create some headaches come Election Day. A preliminary comparison of the 13.8 million names on the state’s voter registration rolls against Texas Department of Public Safety records resulted in a match of only 7 million of those names. The variation between the two documents could be as simple as the addition or dropping of a middle name or initial, but according to the state voter ID law that comes into play for the Nov. 5 election, the name on the voter card has to match exactly with that on the ID card. If a voting official deems the names “substantially similar” a voter is off the hook, sort of. He or she will still be required to sign an affidavit stating he/she is the person named in the two documents. However, if the voting official cannot readily make a connection between names, the voter will have to cast a provisional ballot, which takes longer to fill out and process. The state had recommended local election administrators send out letters to voters advising them their voter cards and IDs need to match, but the postage cost has made that prohibitive. With about 890,000 registered voters in Bexar County, that mailout would have cost more than $400,000.
Instead, Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen is planning a massive publicity campaign to encourage voters to change the name on their voter cards online if it not does appear exactly as it is on their identification. The change must be completed by Oct. 7 to be effective this election.
New voter cards are not scheduled to be issued until after the November election, but elections officials will have access to the name change information if it is completed before Oct. 7, which should minimize problems at the polls for some.
To prepare for the new way of doing business at the polls, Callanen is providing extra training for the crews who work the election locations. During prior elections, she has required training only for new members. This time around, the Bexar elections chief is requiring all election officials, even seasoned workers, to participate. The county employs 250 election officials for the early voting period and a total of 1,300 for Election Day.