Election volunteers begin training on new voter ID requirements


New Texas voter identification laws are causing election administrators across the state to retrain their volunteers.

County election administrators met in Austin last week and have now begun training sessions to help the public understand what is required next time they go to vote.

Election volunteer Yolanda Prince said even though she is going to have to work even harder under the new law, getting people to the polls is still her number one priority.

"It's already hard enough to get people to vote, and this is just another barrier that has come into place," Prince said.

Volunteers in Smith County hit the books Tuesday, making sure they are ready for the next election.

"The new rules and regulations have made it to so we don't really have a clue to what we'll be doing," said League of Women Voters President Mary Claire Rowe.  "That's why we're here today."

"There is a learning curve," said Smith County Elections Administrator Karen Nelson. "It's training all of our judges, all of our clerks, all of our volunteer deputy registrars."

Any election or primary that happens in the future will require a form of valid photo identification to vote in person. If a voter does not currently have a valid form of ID, they can go to the driver's license office and request an election identification certificate. Those IDs are provided for free and are valid only for voting for six years.

"It's my understanding that they're not going to have to wait in a long line," Nelson said. "If they're there for the voter ID certificate, they should be able to get right up there and get that done."

For volunteers, their main focus is the elderly.

"My grandpa, he's 104 years old," Prince said. "If we were to take him to the polls, we would have to go and get him another ID because he definitely doesn't drive anymore."

But Prince said one thing definitely will not change.

"Whether it's at the gas station, at church, the laundromat, wherever I go, I'll be asking 'are you registered to vote?'" she said. "I'm still going to do that no matter what the current law is."

She said she is hoping to get the word out so voters do not face any surprises during the next election.

Election administrators said there are some exemptions to the new voter ID law, including voting by mail. You can find a complete list of rules here.

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