What You Can – And Can’t – Bring to The Polls Today

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelNovember 8, 2016 10:52 am

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Planning to pull a Justin Timberlake and snap a ballot selfie? You might want to reconsider. KERA’s Stephanie Kuo fills us in on what you should know about voter IDs, selfies, and even dress codes if you’re heading out to vote today:

“Over the summer, voter ID requirements in Texas were updated – a federal appeals court ruled that the state’s 2011 law discriminated against minority groups, and a federal judge ordered a temporary fix,” Kuo says. 

The following are acceptable forms of identification to bring:

-Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)

-Texas Election Identification Certificate (issued by DPS)

-Texas personal identification card (issued by DPS)

-Texas license to carry a handgun (issued by DPS)

-U.S. military identification card that has a photo

-U.S. citizenship certificate that has a photo

-U.S. passport

“If you don’t have any of those, you can still cast a ballot – you’ll have to sign a form, swearing there’s a ‘reasonable impediment’ to not having a photo ID,” she says.

You’ll also have to bring one of these alternatives:

-An original, certified birth certificate

-A valid voter registration certificate

-A copy or original of one of the following: current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck or other government document that shows the voter’s name and an address.

“And when you do vote, watch what you wear,” she says. “Campaign or political paraphernalia is prohibited within 100 feet of a polling location. That means no campaign shirts, no hats, and no buttons. And leave your phones in your purses or pockets. It’s illegal in Texas to take photographs of your ballot – wait until you’re out of the building to snap a selfie.”

Monday, Texas AG Ken Paxton issued an opinion on a timely topic: election observers. In his Election Day Eve opinion, Paxton points out that under Texas Law, it’s a Class A misdemeanor for election officials to block authorized observers. Those are people appointed by a candidate, party, or political committee.

Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, says it seems kind of like a warning to election officials.

“I read this as being something where the Attorney General was trying to make clear that they believe that this possibility of voter fraud exists and these poll watchers are there to help you do your job,” he says. “And if you choose not to do your job – these election officials – then there will be repercussions.” 

Paxton issued yesterday’s opinion in response to a Llano County request submitted back in September.

“Politics is always about timing and so it’s hard to imagine that these things are not connected and it clearly is a reaction to the debate about poll watchers being too intrusive,” he says. “This is a national-level discussion about how poll watchers might try to intimidate or embarrass voters.”

Rottinghaus says the AG is basically reminding folks that despite these debates, rules on poll observers need to be followed to the letter.

And one last bit of non-election news: Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has revoked media credentials for two ESPN reporters – he hasn’t shared the reasons why yet.