NEWS HEADLINES

Secretary of State visits Decatur, stumps for voter involvement

By Bob Buckel | Published Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ON THE SAME TEAM – Wise County election officials greeted Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade Tuesday. Shown are (from left) Democratic Party Chairman Mark York, County Judge Bill McElhaney, Andrade, Electiona Administrator Lannie Noble and Tax Assessor-Collector Monte Shaw. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade visited Decatur Tuesday as part of a final swing through the state before the Nov. 6 election.

But she’s not running for anything.

Andrade, the state’s top election official, dropped by to thank local officials for their work in registering voters and setting up elections and to get the word out to the public about how important it is to vote.

“We just want to make sure everybody knows Oct. 22 is coming up,” she said, referring to the opening of early voting for the Nov. 6 election. “In the last presidential election, in 2008, 65 percent voted early. We were quite pleased with that – but if they didn’t vote early, Nov. 6 is still a very important day.”

Lannie Noble, Wise County Elections Administrator, hosted Andrade and a couple of aides at his office off US 380 West. County Judge Bill McElhaney, Tax Assessor-Collector Monte Shaw and Democratic Party Chairman Mark York also came by, along with reporters, to visit with the state official.

It was her second stop of the day, part of a tour that began before the primaries last spring. Along the way she has touched base with about two-thirds of the state’s registered voters.

“Our theme is ‘Make your mark on Texas,’” she said. “By getting involved in the election process, and by casting a vote, you do make your mark on Texas. The message is, let’s get excited about voting. Does it matter? It does. There are local, state and national issues – this is a very important election.”

Noble’s office said they processed about 500 applications the final week before the Oct. 9 deadline.

Andrade had just issued a press release announcing that Texas has reached a record number of registered voters. As of Monday, Oct. 15, there were 13,594,264 voters registered in Texas – and that number will likely increase once all the applications submitted by Oct. 9 are processed. That final list of registered voters will be set prior to Monday’s start of early voting.

The previous record was 13,575,062 for the 2008 General Election.

The Secretary of State, who was appointed just over four years ago by Gov. Rick Perry, also addressed a few questions – including one about photo identification.

Senate Bill 14, which was approved by the last Texas Legislature, required photo ID before a person could cast a ballot. That measure was not cleared by the Department of Justice, however, so it will not be in effect when Texans go to the polls for this election.

Andrade also noted that Texas’ effort to cross-check voters’ immigration status against Department of Homeland Security records will not be a factor this year.

“We were granted access to those records, but we have to draft a memorandum of understanding with them,” she said. “It’s a process, but it will all happen after this election. If Florida has access, we want access – but it will not be in effect for this election.”

Another new law did take effect, however. In response to HB 174, passed in the last Texas Legislature, the state is using Social Security Administration records for the first time to cross-check for voters who have died since they registered and remove them from the rolls.

“It’s our responsibility to provide a clean voter roll,” Andrade said. “We want voting to be convenient and accessible, but we must always protect the process. If we can’t get the voters out there because they don’t respect the process, then that saddens me.”

But Andrade, Noble and others all touched on efforts being made locally and statewide to get people registered and out to the polls. Andrade’s office has a Facebook page and is also on Twitter, using any and all means to educate and encourage people to vote.

She saluted Noble and Wise County for expanding early voting locations and extending hours.

“I’m all for anything that makes it more convenient,” she said. “I’m always going to be supportive of anything that increases voter turnout.

“It’s all of us working together,” she added. “And we’re going to keep working until Texas gets the voter turnout it deserves.”

For information on the elections process in Texas, please visit www.VoteTexas.gov.

PHOTO ID NOT REQUIRED FOR THIS YEAR’S ELECTION

Texans do not need a photo identification to cast a ballot early or on Election Day this year. Voters should, however, present their current voter registration card. If they are registered but don’t have their card, they can present at least one of the following:

  • a driver’s license or personal identification card issued to you by the Texas Department of Public Safety or a similar document issued to you by an agency of another state, even if the license or card has expired;
  • a form of identification that contains your photograph and establishes your identity;
  • a birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes your identity;
  • your United States citizenship papers;
  • your United States passport;
  • official mail addressed to you by a governmental entity; or
  • a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.

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