Travis County preparing 37,000 voter ID mailers

January 11, 2014 11:56:10 AM PST
Travis County officials plan to send 37,000 postcards to voters who may not have proper identification to cast ballots under Texas' new voter ID law - even though some recipients may actually have proper ID, according to a report published Saturday.

The Austin American Statesman reports that the county is notifying voters flagged by the secretary of state's office for not having identification with the same name as their voter registration.

Travis County voter registrar Bruce Elfant said many getting postcards may have proper driver licenses or other state IDs. He said some voters may have been flagged for having slightly different names on their license.

But he also said he wants to contact everyone on the list - just in case. The mailing will cost a few thousand dollars.

"Since we have a population that is identified as not having the right ID, this is probably the most responsible thing we can do," Elfant told the newspaper.

Officials are still finalizing the wording of the postcards but say they will contain information on how to get a proper picture ID. Those without key documentation accepted at the polls can apply for a free election ID certificate.

The 2011 Texas law requiring voters to show a form of state-approved picture ID was reviewed by the U.S. Justice Department, which asked the secretary of state to determine how many voters statewide might not have the right ID.

By comparing the voter registration database to the driver's license and personal ID databases, the secretary of state reported that 37,000 Travis County voters may lack proper identification. But the analysis included mistakes. It included people who were registered and had a driver's license and also failed to account for county residents who might have other forms of photo ID accepted at the polls - including military IDs or passports.

Before Election Day in 2013, the first under the new voter ID law, Elfant's office worked with state officials to set up mobile registration and ID-issuing stations where large concentrations of people lacking picture IDs were believed to live. But Elfant said the effort wasn't very successful.

Jason Barnett, election administrator in nearby Williamson County, said he plans to ask the secretary of state's office to send a similar mobile registration and ID-issuing team ahead of the state's March primary.

Barnett doesn't, however, plan to send postcards to the Williamson County voters flagged in the secretary of state's analysis.

In Travis County, where 85,000 voters cast ballots Nov. 5, only 44 filled out provisional ballots because they didn't have an ID. Just 19 in Williamson County did the same.

Those provisional ballots only counted if the voters came back within six days to show a picture ID at a government office. In Travis County, only 10 did and none did in Williamson County.

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