Texas Voter ID Law Already Causing Confusion
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - Texans will cast their votes Tuesday on a number of important statewide items. Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and there are nine proposed changes to the State Constitution. Below is a list of those proposed amendments.
- Proposition 1 authorizes the Legislature exempt from property all or part of the market value of the homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the United States armed services who is killed in action, as long as the surviving spouse has not remarried.
- Proposition 2 repeals the constitutional provision requiring a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is in operation.
- Proposition 3 authorizes local authorities to extend the length of time that aircraft parts could remain temporarily in this state before being subject to property tax. Under current law, aircraft parts may remain in Texas for up to 175 days before being subject to tax. Taxing entities could extend the exemption up to 730 days.
- Proposition 4 allows the Legislature to provide for a property tax exemption of part of the market value of the homestead of a partially disabled veteran, or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran, if the residence was donated by a charitable organization.
- Proposition 5 amends the definition of “reverse mortgage” to authorize reverse mortgage loans for the purchase of homestead property in addition to the current uses, and would give lenders recourse against borrowers who fail to timely occupy the homestead properties purchased with such loans.
- Proposition 6 creates the State Water Implementation Fund as a special fund inside the state treasury and outside the General Revenue Fund. Money in the fund would be administered by the Texas Water Development Board and would be used to implement the state water plan.
- Proposition 7 allows home-rule municipalities to adopt provisions authorizing the filling of vacancies in the governing body by appointment, but only when the remainder of the vacant term is less than 12 months.
- Proposition 8 repeals the Texas Constitution’s maximum tax rate for a Hidalgo County hospital district. The maximum rate is currently set at 10 cents per $100 valuation, which is lower than the maximum tax rate allowable for hospital districts in all other counties in the state (75 cents per $100 valuation).
- Proposition 9 expands the potential sanctions that the State Commission on Judicial Conduct can issue following a formal proceeding. This constitutional amendment would allow the commission to issue an order of public admonition, warning, reprimand, or a requirement to obtain additional training or education in addition to the Commission’s current authority to issue a public censure or recommend removal or retirement of a judge.
But before you head to the polls, make sure that you have everything needed to vote. The new Texas voter ID law is already in effect for this election season, and was used across the state during early voting. The law is intended to deter fake voters, but several public officials have already run into issues — including two individuals who are running for Texas Governor in 2014.
State Senator Wendy Davis presented her photo ID in order to vote. But the card featured her maiden name, which did not match what was on her voter registration. Attorney General Greg Abbott also hit a minor snag. According to a campaign spokesman, Abbott voted early, but also has IDs with two different but similar names.
Under the new voter ID law, voters whose recorded names differ slightly can still vote, but must first sign an affidavit. Davis and Abbott had to both do so in order to submit their ballots.
CBS 11 News also spoke with former Speaker of the House Jim Wright, who had an issue that kept him from voting. At age 90, he no longer drives and no longer has a valid driver’s license. Wright took an expired driver’s license, his voter registration card, and a TCU faculty ID card to a Texas Department of Public Safety office in order to get a voter ID card. And he was told that it still was not enough.
The former Congressman must now return to the Texas DPS office with a certified copy of his birth certificate, in hopes of that finally being enough for him to get a voter ID card. “I’ve had a long career of trying to help expand the voting privilege and to cover everyone that wants to vote,” Wright said. “Every American citizen who wants to vote, I think, should have that privilege.”
Despite a handful of voter ID issues, early voting numbers have been up in both Tarrant County and Dallas County, according to Secretary of State John Steen. Tarrant County saw nearly 30,000 people cast their ballots early (an increase from about 11,000 people in 2011), while Dallas County had just over 22,000 early voters head to the polls (up from about 13,000 in 2011).
More than 300,000 people voted early across the entire state, Steen said.
“There’s an adjustment period,” Steen said about the voter ID issues. “Part of what we’re doing is trying to make it as smooth as possible.”
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