There have been few problems to go along with few voters during the early voting period leading into Tuesday’s election, county officials report.
As of Tuesday night, less than 2 percent of the county’s 184,000 registered voters had cast ballots.
That’s not unexpected, given that for most of the county the only issues are nine state constitutional amendments up for consideration. Even with three local elections — Bolivar Emergency Services District sales tax proposition, the Water Control Improvement District No. 6 bond proposal and four city of Friendswood bond proposals — voter turnout was not expected to be more than 3 percent once the votes are counted.
Voter turnout has been higher in Friendswood as more than 1,000 people cast ballots as of Tuesday night.
But as the first countywide election under the state’s new Voter ID law, County Clerk Dwight Sullivan, whose office manages the county’s elections, was proud to report all has been smooth.
“The voter ID requirements are not causing an issue or keeping people from voting regularly in Galveston County,” Sullivan said. “The low number of provisional ballots — 0.14 percent of the total votes cast so far — would indicate that people coming to vote have the appropriate form of identification.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety backs Sullivan’s statistics, where the demand for state-approved photo identifications for election purposes has been extremely low.
DPS officials said since the department started offering election identification certificates during the summer, only 104 have been issued statewide.
“There have also been more than 1,300 inquires,” the DPS said in a statement. “Many of the individuals who have inquired about (election identification) already had the necessary photo identification required to vote.”
Those with a proper form of identification cannot apply for an election identification certificate. There are seven acceptable forms of identification for voting, including the DPS-issued election identification.
That includes a Texas driver’s license, a Texas-issued personal identification card, a U.S. passport, Texas concealed handgun license, U.S. military identification or a U.S. citizenship certificate or certificate of naturalization with photo.
“Bottom line is that requiring the presentation of a photo ID in order to vote regularly at the polls does not seem to be a problem” Sullivan said.
Not so, said David Miller, the president of the Galveston chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
He said the Voter ID restrictions, which were a hassle for his grandson, who is among the 104 who received a voter identification from the DPS, help suppress the vote, especially among minority voters.
Miller said the Voter ID law and stealth practices make it difficult for many people to vote.
“It’s hard enough for minorities to get off their butts and go vote,” Miller said. “If they run into a problem, they just give up.”
Miller complained of voter intimidation tactics, although he didn’t note any specifically during this election, as a means to suppress the vote.
He complained that the process of identifying “similar name” voters has been confusing. Voters whose name is one way on the voter registration roles and similar but different on their form of identification are asked to sign an affidavit to update the county’s election records.
Doing so, though, is optional, county elections coordinator Bill Sargent said.
Still, said Miller, many people are not trusting of the system.
“And if they have a bad experience, they go home and tell their family and their friends and soon word spreads and there’s a bunch of people who don’t want the hassle to vote,” Miller said.
Miller said he worries that when there’s an election that will really draw voters, there will be problems thanks to Voter ID.
Early voting concludes Friday. Election day is Tuesday.
At a glance
Voter turnout for the Tuesday general election
POLLING LOCATION VOTERS
GC Justice Center242
PROVISIONAL BALLOTS CAST: 3
SIMILAR NAMES: 119
REGISTERED VOTERS: 184,120
SOURCE: Galveston County Elections Division of County Clerk’s Office