(TYLER PAPER) - Today is the deadline to register to vote in the March primaries.
All but two local races will be decided on March 4. Smith County Election Administrator Karen Nelson said applications sent by mail must be postmarked on or before today.
There are several contested local primaries, including Smith County Judge, county commissioners, district attorney and justice of the peace. Statewide primaries include governor, lieutenant governor, land commissioner and Texas Supreme Court justices. Early voting begins Feb. 18.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens, at least 18 years old by Election Day, a resident in the county where the application is submitted and not convicted of a felony (felons may be eligible if they have completed their sentence, probation and parole).
It takes your Drivers License number or the last four digits of your Social Security number and a current address to register to vote in the county where you wish to vote. The state cross checks the information to verify eligibility.
Applications are available at the Election Office, 302 E. Ferguson St. in Tyler or at www.smith-county.com.
Photo identification will be required under a newly-administered state law. Most residents have at least one of several identification options acceptable to vote.
If you have an unexpired Texas driver's license, state identification card, Concealed Handgun License, U.S. passport, a military identification or citizenship certificate with photos — you can access ballots.
State and local election officials recommend residents with valid identification check the name listed on their preferred form against what is printed on their voter registration card to ensure names are the same.
Texas residents who are U.S. citizens and eligible to vote — but who do not have one of those forms of photo identification — can apply for Election Identification Certificates, which are free and valid for six years.
Election Identification Certificates are available at local Texas Department of Public Safety offices.
To qualify for an Election Identification Certificate, an applicant must prove U.S. citizenship and Texas residency. A certified copy of a birth certificate and two of 33 possible supporting documents, which include a Social Security card, W-2, an out of state drivers license, a voter registration card or pilot's license, are required to prove U.S. citizenship and identity.
Certified copies of birth certificates are available at the Texas Department of Health and Human Services for $22.
Texas Secretary of State spokeswoman Alicia Pierce said her office has focused on informing voters above the age of 65 that mail-in ballots are an alternative. Photo IDs are not required to vote via mail.
Voters who will be out of the county on Election Day, 65 or older, sick or disabled or eligible but incarcerated, can apply for ballots by mail through Feb. 21.
Jamal Moharer of NDMJ LLC, has offered to provide free taxi services to residents in need of transportation to acquire Election Identification Certificates at the local DPS office. He also has offered to get residents without transportation to and from polls on Election Day. Residents should contact Moharer and staff a day in advance at 903-592-4900.