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Women say new Voter ID law makes it more difficult for them to vote

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TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

Elizabeth Pottinger was born in her family's West Texas home in March of 1917, but said she has lived in East Texas for more than forty years and hasn't had a problem voting until now.

"I've always voted," Pottinger said. 

The League of Women Voters of Tyler/Smith County,  a nonpartisan organization, said there a few rules that can make voting in the State of Texas a little more difficult. 

"The thing that is causing problems now is the fact that we have added a new hurdle to cover and that is the addition of a photo ID with your registration card, and it has to be very particular photo ID," said Dee Brock, Program VP for the organization.  

The new voter ID laws require photo identification and since Pottinger no longer drives, her license is expired. She now needs a new form of photo ID and that is something she is having problems obtaining 

"The computers were down but by the time she got around to going back a second time, the driver's license was too old for them to accept it without a birth certificate. Unfortunately, they won't accept the birth certificate either," said Pottinger's daughter, Ann Finster. 

Fortunately, Finster was able to help her mother order a certified copy of her birth certificate, but since she no longer uses her maiden name, Finster was told that her mother would also need to bring in marriage verification as well. 

"There are a lot of people who have a maiden name on their official photo ID, but they don't have the maiden name or any middle name on their voter registration. So, they've got this mismatch when they vote," said Sondra Haltom, President of Empower The Vote Texas.

Finster said these trips and phone calls to get the right documentation for her 96-year-old mother are timely and costly.

"I'm absolutely livid that my mother is being treated this way by the State of Texas. I'm not going to turn loose of it. It's a black eye on the state and this law in unacceptable," Finster said. 

Pottinger will be able to vote using a mail in ballot because she is over the age of 65, but if she ever wants to vote in person, she is going to need to finish this leg work to get her voter ID. 

"Well, it's very frustrating and I like to vote," Pottinger said.

Haltom, who has helped Pottinger through this process, said several women are running into similar problems. 

"Some of them will ultimately decide that they want to vote by mail and some of them will just decide not to vote at all, and that's unfortunate that we've made this process so difficult, so challenging for people that ultimately they decide that the cost benefit for voting is just not worth it," Haltom said. 

Although voting by mail-in ballot seems to be an easier option, Haltom does not want people to sacrifice going to the polls in person just because obtaining certain documentation can be difficult. 

"They shouldn't have to vote my mail. We shouldn't be forcing people into one system of voting just because they don't have this form of ID," Haltom said. "They want to go vote in person the way that they've always done at the polls. For some people, it's very sentimental, it's very emotional. It's something that they feel is their civic duty and they want to go down to the polling place and cast their ballot because there is something that is just special to them about that," Haltom added. 

Finster said she is just happy her mother has not given up, as is the League of Women Voters.

"We have a very poor voter turnout in Texas for a state that has so much to brag about. We can only be ashamed of the fact that we rank last in the nation amongst all the states in D.C. In terms of the percentage of people who actually vote who could vote if they only would," Brock said.

However, Brock is happy to announce that the Taxi Cab Company of Tyler has agreed to provide transportation to the DPS office to secure state approved photo IDs and to the polls to vote. The service is offered free of charge to people who do not have transportation to these facilities. 

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