The Texas Department of Public Safety announced on Tuesday it is offering another way for potential voters to obtain a photo ID needed to vote.
Twenty-five mobile locations will begin processing the election identification certificates on Oct. 1. The documents, which are free for applicants who meet voter requirements and show proof of identity and citizenship, are also available at driver's license offices.
Tuesday’s announcement follows a DPS decision two weeks ago to extend the hours of about 50 driver’s license offices to include Saturday to encourage more citizens to apply for the documents.
Offering the documents is a requirement of the state’s Senate Bill 14, which mandates voters furnish a photo ID before voting. The law, passed in 2011, took effect after a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year allowed its implementation.
In June, the agency began processing the voter ID certificates, which are valid for six years and can only be used for voter identification. As of Sept. 6, only eight had been issued.
In the notice, officials reiterated that most Texans already have what they need to vote: a driver’s license or state-issued ID, a passport or passcard, a military ID, a Texas concealed handgun license or naturalization or citizenship certificate with an ID.
The DPS also reminds Texans that voters with a disability can apply at their county voter registrar’s offices for an exemption from the photo ID requirement. Voters who cast a ballot by mail do not have to submit a photo ID.
In an attempt to clear up confusion, the agency announced last week that it does not check applicants for warrants when they apply for the election identification certificate.
“The statement released [Sept. 18] noting that it is routine to check for outstanding warrants during transactions at Texas Driver License Offices only applies to driver licenses and personal ID cards; it does not apply to Election Identification Certificates,” agency spokesman Tom Vinger said in an email.
The statement was in response to inquiries by media outlets and state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, who sought clarification about the policy.
The mobile stations will only process election identification certificates. A list of the locations and hours can be found here.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/09/24/dps-roll-out-mobile-stations-process-voter-ids/.