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Texas Votes In First Election Day Under ID Law

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Steve Pickett
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Texas voters went to the polls on Tuesday for the state’s first election requiring people to show ID.  A new law requires voters to present one of seven forms of photo identification — such as a driver’s license, a passport or a military ID — to cast ballots.

It’s been controversial for some and for others confusing.  The Dallas County Elections Office reported Tuesday evening that about 100 angry voters called to complain they had been denied the right to vote because they didn’t have an acceptable photo ID.  Those voters should have received a ballot to be validated later, along with an election identification certificate.  A handful of complaints also came from those who were erroneously turned away because their photo ID did not match their vote registration to the letter.  Those voters were supposed to receive an affidavit to sign confirming their identity.

Some greeted the new law with frustration. Lesley Evans, 31, said that although she was not personally affected by the law, the Dallas receptionist knew at least four people who had moved recently and weren’t able to change their IDs in time.

“I’m repressing anger right now,” Evans said before laughing.

However, Cindy Swanson agrees with the new law. “I think it’s the fair way to do it. I think it’s a great law.”

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running to replace Gov. Rick Perry in 2014, said critics had “run out of claims” about alleged hardships the mandate would create.

“I haven’t ever seen anything that was overhyped as much as some partisan efforts to overhype concerns about this when, in reality, there has been no problems whatsoever,” said Abbott, who defended the voter ID law in court.

Texans without a photo ID could obtain a free state-issued election ID after the law went into effect, but only 121 had been handed out as of Monday. About 1,500 people had inquired about the offer, but many already had an acceptable ID, said Tom Vinger, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Early voting nearly doubled from 2011, when the last off-year elections were held in Texas, according to state officials. More than 317,000 people have already voted in the state’s 15 largest counties, up from 168,000 early voters two years ago.

Democrats and opponents of Texas’ photo identification requirement said they would be watching closely Tuesday to see if voters were being disenfranchised.

Former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright was turned away last week when he tried to vote using an expired driver’s license or university faculty ID. He said Monday he finally obtained the documents he needed but was concerned about the “nuisance” involved in the process.

Across the state, getting the most attention on the ballot is Proposition 6, which would draw down $2 billion from the state’s rainy day fund to build water pipelines and reservoirs across drought-parched Texas.  The measure has attracted the most visibility and campaign funds, drawing support from business and environmental groups alike. Some conservatives oppose using the state’s savings account to finance large-scale construction projects, while others are concerned the money could be misused.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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