The Texas Legislature passed a law in 2011 that beginning in 2012, voters will have to show picture identification to vote, pending approval of the U.S. Justice Department.

At polling places today, poll workers are handing out a sheet that explains the new law. Currently, a voter must show a voter registration card. Beginning next year, voters will have to show one of the following:

• Texas driver’s license issued by Department of Public Safety
• Texas election identification certificate issued by DPS
• Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
• Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
• U.S. military ID card containing photograph
• U.S. citizenship certificate containing photograph
• U.S. passport

The election identification certificate is a new form of ID that DPS will be issuing to people who have no other form of positive ID. The problem with this certificate is that to obtain it, a person would have to take time off from work, get to a DPS office and wait — usually an hour or two — to have the card issued. The notice handed out at polling stations, however, does not explain how people would identify themselves to DPS if they have no identification — possibly a birth certificate, social security card and utility bills.

The exemption to this law is someone with disabilities who may apply to the county registrar for a permanent exemption. Applying for the exemption may be more difficult that applying for an ID. The application must contain written documentation from the Social Security Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs documenting a disability rating of at least 50 percent and state that the applicant has no form of picture ID.

The law passed to limit voter fraud, however no instances of voter fraud were presented in the debate in the legislature.