OP-ED
From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

October 12, 2011
For Immediate Release
CONTACT:  Kelvin Bass, 214-467-0123 / 214-948-9378

Election time - It's sooner than you think

ARE YOU READY TO VOTE?

One year and one month sounds like a long time, but we're inside 13 months before Americans return to the polls for the 2012 Presidential Elections. But there's a few matters of business to tend to before that time and the question is, 'ARE YOU READY TO VOTE?'

Actually, your first opportunity to flex your political muscles comes in less than a month. That's when Texas voters have the opportunity to go to the polls on November 8 to weigh their opinions on 10 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution that are required companions to bills passed during this year's legislative session.

Dallas County voters - as well as those across the state - will also be able to decide on local issues. For example, Cedar Hill voters can show their support for public schools and the cities of Sunnyvale and Glenn Heights also have additional items that will appear on the ballot.

I ask again, ARE YOU READY TO VOTE? I do so to prepare you for possible changes to voter eligibility due to new laws on Voter ID that passed this year. As of January 1, 2012, the voter registration card that will arrive at your doors over the next few weeks will no longer guarantee your ability to cast a ballot. Under new Texas law, all voters will be required to show an approved form of photo ID in order to vote. Your time-honored voter registration card is now a supplementary document that only confirms the information that will appear on county voter rolls and polling locations.

Under the new state law, there are seven forms of photo identification that will allow you to cast your all important ballot; a Texas driver license or Texas ID card, a U.S. military ID, a U.S. passport, a U.S. citizenship certificate and a state-issued concealed handgun license. In addition, a new free voter certificate was created for persons who cannot afford or do not have the other acceptable forms of identification. All documents must be current or not have expired for more than 60 days to be eligible.

Seniors who do not hold or cannot afford a Texas driver license, state-ID or other eligible document may obtain the free voter certificate. It does not expire if issued to a person 70 years or older. Texas is one of seven states to have passed new laws this year that will require a form of photo ID to vote. Similar legislation was introduced in 27 other states in 2011.

The new law could also cause problems for potential voters whose names have changed since they last voted. For instance ladies, if you have married, un-married (divorced), hyphenated or otherwise changed your legal name since you last voted, your information may not match that appearing on voter rolls and your eligibility could be challenged. Student photo IDs are also no longer acceptable.

The November Constitutional Amendment Election is the first of what will be a year-long season of politics and ballots. Next come the March 6 primary elections followed by possible run off and local elections in May. These of course, lead up to your chance to have a role in making U.S. history. Don't wait until November 6, 2012 to find out that you will be an observer of - rather than a participant in - democracy.

One last time: ARE YOU READY TO VOTE?

For more information, please contact Kelvin Bass or Daniel Clayton at 214-467-0123 or 214-948-9378.

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