Voting helps determine our future. As the Texas Secretary of State and the state’s chief election officer, I and my office are working to ensure that qualified voters in Texas understand what they need to bring to the polls.

If a voter possesses a form of approved photo ID, the voter must use it to vote. Currently, there are seven forms of acceptable photo ID:

(1)    Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)-issued Texas driver license

(2)    DPS-issued Texas personal identification card

(3)    DPS issued Texas License to Carry a Handgun

(4)    DPS-issued Texas Election Identification Certificate

(5)    U.S. passport

(6)    U.S. citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph

(7)    U.S. military identification card containing the person’s photograph

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the approved photo ID must be current or have expired no more than four years before being presented at the polling place. If the voter has continued access to their acceptable form of photo ID, but, for example, forgets to bring it to the polling place and/or leaves it, for example, at home or in their car, the voter still possesses the acceptable form of photo ID and must use it to vote.

As provided by court order, if a voter does not possess and is not reasonably able to obtain one of the seven forms of approved photo ID, the voter may vote, if otherwise eligible, a regular ballot, by: (1) signing a declaration at the polls explaining why the voter is reasonably unable to obtain one of the seven forms of approved photo ID, and (2) providing a form of supporting documentation.

A voter whose photo identification has been lost, stolen, suspended, revoked or expired more than four years does not possess one of the acceptable forms of photo ID, and, if the voter cannot reasonably obtain a replacement of the identification that was lost, stolen, suspended, revoked or expired or another form of acceptable photo ID, the voter is eligible to a present a supporting form of identification and execute a Reasonable Impediment Declaration.

Supporting documentation includes: a certified birth certificate (must be an original), a valid voter registration certificate, a copy or original of one of the following: current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and an address (must be an original if it contains a photograph).

Voters with a disability may apply with the county registrar for a permanent exemption to showing approved photo ID at the polls. Also, voters who (1) have consistent religious objections to being photographed or (2) do not present one of the seven forms of approved photo ID because of certain natural disasters as declared by the President of the United States or the Texas Governor, may apply for a temporary exemption to showing approved photo ID at the polls. Also, voters age 65 or older, those with a disability, or those who will be out of the county during both early voting and Election Day may vote by mail. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is Oct. 28.

The general election is Nov. 8. Early voting runs from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4.

I am traveling throughout Texas as part of a non-partisan, bilingual voter education effort called Vote Texas, to ensure all voters understand when, where, and how to vote. Vote Texas is reaching, among others, voters in urban and rural communities, senior citizens, first time voters, military members and minority groups.

For more information regarding voting requirements and voter ID, please visit VoteTexas.gov or call 1-800-252-VOTE.