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Texas bill: A step towards better voter ID education, greater transparency
04/24/17 |
Publication Date: 
Monday, April 24, 2017 - 12:00

The state has a responsibility to educate the public about voter identification requirements under SB 14, the voter ID law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011. In July 2016, the state was also ordered by a federal court to engage in a $2.5 million voter ID education campaign as part of an interim remedy agreement. Despite evidence that the 2016 voter ID education campaign was not entirely successful, the state has not been forthcoming with details about the plan.

HB 3328 seeks to increase government transparency in the interest of improving voter ID education efforts by making information related to public spending on voter ID education public information subject to disclosure under the Public Information Act. The exceptions described in Sections 552.101 and 552.103 of the Government Code would no longer apply to such information.

Recent rulings that Texas' voting laws discriminate put pressure on the state, but the road ahead is long
04/24/17 |
Publication Date: 
Monday, April 24, 2017 - 01:00

Lawmakers are trying to pass a bill to address the discriminatory issues found with the voter ID law. But Democrats say it falls short of meeting the standards that a district court set last year.

Plaintiffs want District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi to consider throwing out the law after the legislative session and returning the state to the federal government's "pre-clearance" list.

But even if that happened, the Texas attorney general's office would almost certainly challenge the decision in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. ...

The parties in the [redistricting] case are set to meet in San Antonio on Thursday. The three-judge panel will hear updates on whether a trial is needed and what a timeline for the rest of the case might look like.

But the panel has moved slowly and methodically throughout the case for over six years. It is unlikely to grant the plaintiffs' requests — for new congressional maps for the 2018 elections and federal oversight — before tackling other remaining issues, such as whether the 2013 interim maps were also discriminatory.

And even if the court sided with the plaintiffs in a trial and struck down the maps, Texas could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court — dragging out the case even longer.

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Minnesota Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 General Election: November 8, 2016

Pre-Registration Deadline: October 18, 2016
But if you miss this deadline you can still register on Election Day or through absentee voting.

For more information, visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website.

Election Day: Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. central time on Election Day. In some rural communities and unorganized territories, polling places may not open until 10:00 a.m.

Early Voting:

In Person – One-stop absentee voting is conducted starting 46 days before the election—Friday, September 23, 2016—and ends at 5:00 p.m. the day before the election (November 7, 2016). See the section below for Voting Early & by Absentee Ballot for more information about locations and other details.

By Mail – You can submit a request for an absentee ballot to be mailed to you at any time during the year, except the day of the election. We encourage you to submit your absentee ballot request as soon as possible for an upcoming election—the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office recommends that a voter apply for an absentee ballot by October 7, 2016. If it is after that date, you might consider whether in-person early/absentee voting might be an option for you. 

How to Find Your Polling Place: Visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s polling place locator  web page.


Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.

Registration Deadlines: There is no registration deadline to vote in Minnesota. A voter may register on the day of the election at their polling place. However, many voters will choose to register to vote prior to Election Day to save time at the polling station. If a voter wishes to register prior to Election Day, they may do so by completing a voter registration application, either in person, by mail or electronically, at least 20 days prior to Election Day. For the 2016 general election, the “pre-registration deadline” for a voter to mail in their application or submit it online, is October 18.

Voter registration applications submitted by mail must be received by the election official by 5:00 p.m. on the pre-registration deadline to be processed for the upcoming election, and applications completed online must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on the pre-registration deadline.  If a voter misses the deadline, though, she or he can register at her or his polling place on Election Day.

How to Check Your Registration: To determine if you are registered to vote at your current address, visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s voter registration check web page or call 866-OUR-VOTE.

Registration Eligibility: A person may vote in Minnesota on Election Day if the person:

  • is at least 18 years old on Election Day;
  • is a citizen of the United States;
  • has resided in Minnesota for at least 20 days immediately preceding Election Day; and
  • finished with all parts of any felony conviction sentence

You can vote while under guardianship unless a judge specifically has revoked your right to vote. You cannot vote if a court has ruled that you are legally incompetent.

How to Register: Minnesota residents may register in person, by mail or online.


You may register to vote online at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website. You will need an e-mail address to use the online application.

By Mail or In Person

To register to vote by mail or in person, you must mail or drop off a completed voter registration application to either your county election official, or to:

Secretary of State
60 Empire Dr.
Suite 100
Saint Paul, MN 55103

The paper voter registration application form can be downloaded from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s web page. You may also look up your local county election office’s mailing address from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website.

Information Required for Registration: To register to vote online or by mail, a person will be asked to provide either a Minnesota issued driver’s license number, a Minnesota ID card number or the last four digits of their social security number. If a person does not have any of those numbers, the voter will need to use a paper application and will be added to the voter rolls but required to show proof of residence at the polls on Election Day. More information about acceptable proof of residence is provided below in the “Identification Requirements” section.

Early Voting:

In Person – One-stop absentee voting is conducted starting 46 days before the election—Friday, September 23, 2016—and ends at 5:00 p.m. the day before the election. For locations and hours available for in-person absentee voting, check here or call the county election office. Note that you do NOT have to be registered to vote to utilize in-person absentee voting—if an individual is not registered to vote, she or he will need to complete a voter registration form and show proof of residence at the elections office before voting absentee.

By Mail – You can request an absentee ballot be mailed to you. Any Minnesotan can request a mail-in absentee ballot—even if you are not registered to vote. No special circumstances are necessary.

You can apply for an absentee ballot online (in a county, state or federal election) or by downloading, printing, and filling out this application and submitting it to your local election official by mail, fax or e-mail. There is no specific deadline to apply for an absentee ballot, but the Secretary of State recommends applying by October 7, 2016. If you apply after that date, the ballot may not arrive in the mail in time, or you may not have time to complete and return it by Election Day. Apply for your ballot as soon as possible and if you are concerned about processing time, consider in-person absentee voting (see above).

After you vote the ballot, return it to the county election office. The deadline to return an absentee ballot depends on the method by which it is submitted:

  • By mail: If you mail your ballot, the county election office must receive the ballot on or before Election Day. Note that you should not have to affix postage to the ballot. It is pre-paid by the election official.
  • In person: If you hand deliver your own ballot to the county election office, you must do so by 5 p.m. the day before Election Day.
  • In person by another person: If another person hand delivers your ballot to the county election office, that individual must do so by 3:00 p.m. on Election Day. Note that this individual may not deliver more than 3 ballots and you may not deliver her or his own ballot on Election Day.

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

If a voter is already registered to vote, no identification is required at the polling place. An individual seeking to vote must sign a polling place roster or voter signature certificate which affirms the voter’s eligibility to vote. An elections judge may, before the voter signs, ask her/him to confirm her/his name, address and date of birth. If poll workers turn you away for failing to provide ID, call 866-OUR-VOTE immediately.

Only individuals who are registering to vote at their precinct on Election Day should be asked to show ID. Acceptable proof of identification includes:

  • A government-issued ID with the voter’s current name and address (exhaustive list below)
    • A MN driver’s license, MN learner’s permit, MN state ID card, or a receipt for a MN driver’s license, learner’s permit, or state ID
    • A tribal ID card with the voter’s name, address, photo and signature
  • A photo ID AND a document with the voter’s name and address. Note that the ID can be expired and the document can be shown on an electronic device like a smartphone or tablet.
    • The acceptable photo IDs are:
      • Driver’s license, state ID card or learner’s permit issued by any U.S. state
      • U.S. passport
      • U.S. military ID card
      • Tribal ID card with the voter’s photo, name and signature
      • Minnesota university, college or technical college ID card
      • Minnesota high school ID card
    • The acceptable documents to demonstrate the voter’s name and address (which must be provided ALONG with one of the above photo IDs) are:
      • A bill, account statement or start of service statement due or dated within 30 days of the election for: phone service (landline, cell, VOIP, etc.); TV (cable, satellite, etc.); Internet service; solid waste or sewer services; electric; gas; water; banking or credit card; or rent or mortgage payments
      • Residential lease or rental agreement that is valid through Election Day
      • Current student fee statement
  • A registered voter from the individual’s precinct can go with the voter to the polling place to sign an oath confirming the voter’s address. A registered voter can vouch for up to eight others. A voter who registers by being vouched for cannot vouch for others.
  • College students can use a student photo ID card (without providing additional documentation) if their college provided a student housing list to election officials.
  • If a voter was previously registered in the precinct but changed names or moved within the same precinct, the voter only needs to tell the elections official her previous name or address — no additional documentation is needed.
  • If an individual pre-registered to vote too close to Election Day, he/she may have received a Notice of Late Registration in the mail. This notice can be used to register at the polling place on Election Day without further documentation.

If an individual lives in a residential facility, a facility staff person can go with him/her to the polling place to confirm his address. The staff person must either be on a list provided by the facility before the election or be able to demonstrate employment at the facility.

VoteRiders has created Minnesota voter ID info cards in English and in Spanish.

Moving within the Same Precinct

  • To vote in person on Election Day, the voter should go to the polling place assigned to her/his new address (which should be the same as the one for her/his old address, if the voter has moved within the precinct). There, the voter only needs to tell the elections official her/his previous address — no additional documentation is needed.
  • To vote early in-person, the voter only needs to tell the elections official her/his previous address — no additional documentation is needed.
  • To vote by absentee ballot (mail), the voter may use her/his previous name or address — no additional documentation is needed.

Moving Between Precincts

  • To vote in person on Election Day, the voter should go to the polling place assigned to her/his new address and follow the Election Day registration procedures. The voter will need to provide some proof of identity or residence (see previous section about Identification).
  • To vote early in-person, the voter may be asked to complete a voter registration form and show proof of residence before voting (see previous section about Identification).

To vote by absentee ballot (mail), if the voter is not currently registered to vote at her current address, she will be sent a voter registration application along with her ballot. The completed application must be submitted along with her absentee ballot. The voter is required to show an acceptable proof of residence described in the previous section to the witness that signs her/his absentee ballot envelope.

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

You can register to vote and request an absentee ballot all at once online or by submitting a paper request via mail. Apply as soon as possible to allow sufficient time for your blank ballot to make it to you and your voted ballot to be returned to the election official.

Receiving an Absentee Ballot

You can have an absentee ballot sent to you wherever you are in the world. You can request your ballot online or by submitting a paper request via mail. You need to send your ballot back and it will not count if received after Election Day. You may return your ballot via mail, a package delivery service (such as FedEx or UPS) or the diplomatic pouch at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You cannot return your ballot by email or fax.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

The FWAB serves as a backup ballot if the voter does not receive the requested absentee ballot in time. If you do not receive your absentee ballot from your State in time to return it to your election official to participate in the election, use the FWAB form. You can find more information here.

You may be able to vote if you have a felony conviction. In Minnesota, someone’s right to vote is automatically restored after completing her or his sentence for a felony conviction—meaning after her or his term of incarceration, parole and/or probation are all completed (including a federal sentence or sentence from another state). If the entire sentence, including probation and parole, is complete, the voter may re-register and vote a regular ballot. A stay of adjudication for a felony crime is not a conviction and therefore does not disqualify someone from voting as long as the stay has not been revoked.

Voting information in other languages, including English, Hmong, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese is available from the Minnesota Secretary of State website.


Top Issues to Field

For more information for voters with disabilities, find a National Disability Rights Network partner in your area.

For more information for student voters, visit the Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

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Election Information for your state