Texas Secretary of State urges people to register to vote

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

July 29, 2014 at 2:29 a.m.
Updated July 30, 2014 at 2:30 a.m.

The November general election will be here in a little more than three months.

Before the campaign signs sprout up in yards and along fences and the commercials start asking for votes, it's important for residents to register to vote, said the Texas Secretary of State.

Nandita Berry visited Victoria on Tuesday to talk about the importance of voting in the Nov. 4 election.

"It's our job to make sure folks have the information they need so when they go to vote, they are not surprised," she said.

The newest requirement of showing photo identification to vote was first used in the constitutional amendment election last November.

Berry, who entered the office in January, said she hasn't heard of any major issues across the state with that new law.

The important thing to remember, she said, is there are seven acceptable forms of identification that can be used to verify someone as a registered voter. They are a Texas driver's license, Texas election identification certificate issued by Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas personal identification card issued by DPS, Texas concealed handgun license, United States military ID, United States citizenship certificate containing the person's photograph or a U.S. passport.

"We want to make sure every eligible voter who has the right to vote can vote," she said.

George Matthews, Victoria County election administrator, said it is a good idea for people to start registering to vote or updating voter information before the voting begins. He estimated there are about 52,000 registered voters in Victoria County.

Fortunately in Victoria County, the voting centers have made it very easy to vote in different precincts. Voters can cast votes in any polling place as long as they are registered voters and have proper identification.

"If you know you need to update your information or need to register, do it now while you're thinking about it," Matthews said.

The last day to register to vote in the November election is Oct. 6.

Early voting is Oct. 20 to Oct. 31.

But if plans have been made to be away from the voting polls for early voting and Election Day, there are ways to still make that vote count.

Provisional and mail-in ballots were created to give voters a chance to vote, even if they are not present or capable of visiting a polling place, Matthews said.

Provisional ballots allow voters to cast a vote if they did not bring the proper ID to the polling place, Matthews said. It allows a few days for the voter or the elections office to correct any information or to verify the voter's identity.

"Sometimes on Election Day, you have to do some research, and the data might not be available," he said.

A mail-in ballot can be requested if a voter is 65 years or older or if he or she is disabled. It can be mailed in or faxed into the elections office as long as the signatures on the ballot and request match.

Berry said one of her goals as the Texas Secretary of State is to make sure every voter has the right information to cast a vote.

"We don't want to turn anyone away," she said. "Hopefully, people can be prepared."

The upcoming Victoria County elections will include county judge, county clerk, district clerk, county treasurer, county commissioners in Precincts 2 and 4 and all four justices of the peace.

"If you wait until Nov. 4 to do your research, you'll be overwhelmed," Matthews said.

Although the upcoming election includes a gubernatorial race at the top of the ballot, he anticipates that only about half of the county's registered voters will participate in the election.

It's not unusual, Berry said, for there to be low numbers, but the candidates are the people who can make a big difference in the turnout.

"When our voters get behind a candidate, they will register and they will vote," Berry said.



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