Senators Ellis, Garcia, and Whitmire ask Harris County Clerk for voter notification

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For Immediate Release

February 11, 2014

(Houston, TX) — In a February 10 letter (click here to view), Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) joined with Senators Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) and John Whitmire (D-Houston) in asking Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart to mail notices to voters for whom the records reveal a name discrepancy and allow them to correct the record before the March primary.

Texas’ voter ID law requires that a voter’s name on their photo identification exactly match the name on their voter registration.  If it is not an exact match, voters are required to sign an affidavit provided the names are “substantially similar” in the eyes of the election judge.  If the names are not “substantially similar,” the voter will be forced to cast a provisional ballot that will not count unless the voter follows up within six days with supporting information.  Although the voter ID requirements will affect all voters, women may be disproportionately impacted because some may have opted for multiple names changes according to marital status.

Voters can avoid this confusion by remedying any discrepancies on the voting rolls in advance of an election.  By sending out notifications to impacted voters, the Harris County Clerk can proactively address any discrepancies before the upcoming election so voters can exercise their constitutional right to vote without undue obstruction.

The Houston senators released the following statements:

“I hope that Mr. Stanart understands that protecting the constitutional right to vote is essential to our democratic elections and takes all the steps he can to ensure that our constituents who are eligible to vote are able to do so,” said Senator Ellis.

“The right to vote should never be taken lightly. We need to work toward improving access to the ballot box and protecting the right to vote. Turning people away due to an unintentional  name discrepancy or misinterpretation of the law, goes against basic democratic principles we all cherish. I urge Mr. Stanart to do everything possible to ensure everyone’s constitutional right is protected,” said Senator Garcia.

“We should be working together to increase voter turnout in our elections. I urge Mr. Stanart to use all necessary means to assist the voters in Harris County in correcting any discrepancies in their voter registration,” said Senator Whitmire.

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