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San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2013, Paul Premack
July 30, 2013

Vote by Mail is Option for Seniors who lack photo ID

Dear Mr. Premack: I enjoyed your article on the new Texas Voter ID Law in the July 25 My Life section. I am 70 years old, and my wife is 62 and disabled. Neither of us has a driver’s license or any of the photo IDs that are required by the new law. We are registered voters. What are our options so that we can vote without difficulty in the upcoming election? – J.Q.
Option 1: Get a photo ID that complies with the law. You can obtain the Election Identification Certificate issued by the Department of Public Safety, or the Texas personal identification card issued by DPS. These are acceptable photo IDs and will enable you to vote.
Option 2: Your wife can apply for a disability exemption from the new law. She can apply with the county voter registrar, and must provide written documentation from Social Security establishing a recognized disability, or written documentation from the VA establishing a disability rating of at least 50 percent. Additionally, she must disclose to the voter registrar that she has no form of photo ID which is valid under the new law. The registrar will give her a voter registration certificate reflecting the disability exemption, and she will be allowed to vote upon presentation of that certificate (without the need for photo ID).
Option 3: You could both vote by mail. In order vote by mail, a registered voter must either be 1) planning to be away from the county on Election Day and during the entire early voting period for that election, OR 2) be in jail but still eligible to vote, OR 3) be age 65 or older on Election Day, OR 4) be disabled.
On that list, you qualify to vote by mail because you are 70 and your wife qualifies to vote by mail because she is disabled. Unlike the disability exemption discussed in Option 2, she will not have to present evidence of her disability when she submits her Application to vote by mail. Likewise, there is no requirement to present a photo ID in order to vote by mail. Instead, you submit a written Application for a mail-in ballot to the county elections department. The Application must be submitted between 60 days and 7 days before Election Day.
The Application for a mail-in ballot can be obtained online at On the Application, you must disclose your name and address, your date of birth, the reason you are eligible to vote by mail, which election the ballot will cover, and if the election is a primary you must declare your political party. You must sign the application. If you can only make a mark (not your signature) then there must be one witness who also signs the Application and who must disclose his/her address and relationship to you.
If you cannot sign and cannot make a mark on the Application, the witness must check a box so informing the election department, must sign the form, and must indicate that he/she acted as an assistant (unless the witness is also a close family member [parent, grandparent, spouse, child or sibling] or lives at the same address as the intended voter). Failure to disclose that an intended voter used an assistant is a Class A Misdemeanor.
Once you receive your ballot, you vote and then return the ballot by mail to the elections department. Your ballot must be received by the elections department before 7pm on Election Day. That does not mean “postmarked” before 7pm on Election Day, it means the ballot must be in the department’s hands before 7pm on Election Day. If it is returned late, your vote is not counted.

Prior Week: Adoption status can affect claim to mineral rights
Next Week: Risks and Benefits of Annuities for Seniors

Disclaimer: This column answers a specific legal question asked by an individual in Texas. The answer may or may not match your individual situation. Be careful not to treat this column as specific legal advice, as it may not meet your individual needs. It may give you a solid basis for discussion with your own attorney.  You should consult with your personal attorney before you take any action on this or any legal issue. Also, please be aware that laws change, so  this column is valid only as of the date it was published. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.