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Mark Richardson is a multimedia journalist, editor and writer who has worked in digital, print and broadcast media for three decades. He is a nationally recognized editor and reporter who has covered government, politics and the environment. A journalism graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, he was recently awarded a Foundation for Investigative Journalism grant and has three Associated Press Managing Editors awards for excellence in reporting.
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Local officials working to help voters get proper ID before Election Day
Local election officials plan to be very busy over the next week in an effort to identify as many of
And while officials like Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir and Tax Assessor-Collector Bruce Elfant are striking a decidedly non-partisan tone in their efforts, they are being driven by the highly partisan and controversial Texas Voter ID Law passed by the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature in 2011. That law, and a similar one in
While the Nov. 5 ballot will contain mostly state constitutional amendments, both Democrats and Republicans see it as a test to gauge the effect the Voter ID Law will have on elections in
DeBeauvoir and Elfant briefed Travis County Commissioners Tuesday on their efforts.
“Because of the time frame we’ve been given, we actually have very little time to get voters ready for the November elections,” said DeBeauvoir. “We have set up a series of mobile events at community centers, grocery stores and at UT to help voters without driver’s licenses get an Election ID Certificate.”
She said an Election ID Certificate is a special identification card issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety that will allow people without a driver’s license, state ID card or other appropriate ID to vote. She emphasized that they will not be issuing driver’s licenses. The DPS is also issuing Election ID Certificates at its local Driver’s License offices throughout the state from 10am to 2pm each Saturday through Nov. 4.
Elfant said people will also be able to register to vote and/or apply for a disability exemption at the community events. He added that the City of
The Texas Voter ID Law, which was backed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and other prominent Texas Republicans, states that voters must present a form of photo identification from among a limited list of appropriate types at the polls in order to be allowed to vote. GOP lawmakers said the measure was designed to prevent voter fraud, but Democrats claim it was designed to discourage groups that tend to support Democrats, like students, poor people and minorities.
The issue has taken on national political implications, as several states with GOP-controlled legislatures have passed Voter ID and other regulations perceived as restrictions to try to keep traditional Democratic voters from going to the polls.
But when proponents of the
“Just last week, several of our precinct chairs in East Austin worked at the
“Many of the folks who don’t have a driver’s license are also not computer literate,” he said. ”We need to find other ways to reach them. I want to know when and how we can measure the effectiveness of this campaign. We need to know how well it worked in bringing people out to vote.”
For more information and a schedule of community events, go to www.keepcalmvoteon.com, or call the Travis County Elections Office at (512) 854-9473 or the Travis County Clerk at (512) 238-8683.
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