Vote, but take your ID too

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Students line up on Guadalupe to vote in the 2008 presidential election. A proposed Texas voter ID law that would have required voters to present a government-issued form of identification in this years election was denied by a U.S. District Court yesterday. (Daily Texan file photo)
Students line up on Guadalupe to vote in the 2008 presidential election. A proposed Texas voter ID law that would have required voters to present a government-issued form of identification in this years election was denied by a U.S. District Court yesterday. (Daily Texan file photo)

Until 7:00 p.m. tonight, voters throughout Travis County can vote at any polling place countywide. This is a great rule that places the county in a unique position compared to most other localities in Texas, where one may only vote in one’s own precinct on Election Day. This policy makes voting particularly easy for students, who may spend all day on campus and not in a home precinct.

Unfortunately, in an example of something that makes voting harder for students, the state's contentious voter ID law will be in effect during this election. It is no secret that my colleagues on the Daily Texan Editorial Board and I oppose this discriminatory law, but that is not really the topic of discussion today. The voter ID law is the law of the land, and students would do well to make sure they can abide by its regulations in order to cast a ballot.

In order to vote, people need one of seven forms of a valid, government-issued photo identification that is either current or expired fewer than 60 days ago. is needed. The most ubiquitous example of such an ID is a Texas driver's license. For most students, particularly those who frequent bars and other such establishments, being carded should not be a foreign experience. Fortunately, the minimum age for this exercise — voting — is only 18! In addition to a driver's license, a voter may use a passport or a concealed handgun license may be used. Other acceptable forms of ID include “election identification certificates” and personal identification cards, both issued by the Department of Public Safety, as well as U.S. citizenship certificates and military identification cards. A student doesn’t need to worry about his or her ID’s address matching the voter registration address, because the addresses’ matching is unnecessary, but the voter’s name on the ID must match the name on the voter registration.

Most importantly, despite being government-issued and containing a photo, students’ UT identification cards aren’t valid forms of voter ID. While Student Government alliances have promised lobbying the state to accept such cards as acceptable forms of identification, no change in the law has occurred yet. If you plan to vote today, make sure to have a driver's license or other acceptable ID handy.