Voter ID Concerns on Election Eve

The first Texas general election to be held under the state’s new voter identification law comes Tuesday and some voters are concerned about the new rules.

Duncanville voter Jennifer Fulbright said she was turned away in a municipal election this year because a minor discrepancy between her driver license and voter registration.

Then, voting early last month she was concerned when poll workers insisted on scanning her driver license, but could not answer her questions about how the information would be used.

“What is that information actually hooked up to, so once you scan it, where is the information going to, ok? And is it tied in to how I voted?”

Assistant Dallas County Election Administrator Robert Heard said ID’s are normally scanned only in early voting and only to read the voter’s information faster by computer.

“I can assure them that that information is very safe. That information is kept. It’s not going online. It’s not going anywhere,” he said.

Heard said the Election Department operates a dual data system that separates registration information from election results.

“We can tell that they voted. We can’t tell how they voted or what they voted for,” he said.

But, Fulbright’s ID discrepancy in the Duncanville city election should not have been enough to turn her away, according to officials.

Her driver license showed her middle name as only an initial while her voter registration included the full middle name.

Heard said the state considers that “substantially similar.”

“That should have been OK, and I would say to that voter, she should have called the Elections Department,” he said.

Election officials have been training poll workers to properly use the new law in the general election Tuesday, when higher turnout is expected to provide the largest test of the new requirements so far.

Dallas County Election Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole had forecasted as many as 37 percent of registered voters would cast ballots but rainy weather expected now could dampen voter interest.

“Voters like that perfect weather, but if there’s rain, there’s cold, they tend to think it’s not worth getting out into the rain or standing in line,” she said.

Even with an open governor seat up for grabs in this general election, Pippins-Poole said early voting was 10,000 votes behind the pace of 198,000 set four years ago.

But 27,000 mail-in ballots received so far are 6,000 ahead of the number four years ago and mail-in ballots can still be received through Tuesday evening.

If rain further hampers election day turn out, poll workers must be ready to handle returns in the rain. They’re provided with ponchos to help them prepare.

“So it goes on, whether its snow, sleet, rain, we’re just like the post office, we have to deliver,” Pippins-Poole said.

Fulbright said she believes the voter ID rules also discourage in person voting.

“A lot of people are hesitant now about going down to vote, based on all of this,” she said.

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