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Similar Names:

Title 1, Part 4, Chapter 81, Subchapter E, Rule 81.71 provides detailed information and directions on Substantially Similar Names.

Let's summarize what this is all about. When a voter arrives at a polling place and has an ID where the name does not exactly match his or her name on the Voter Registration Records, the voter may be offered the opportunity to update his or her voter registration record so that the name on the record and the ID match. Doing this is not a requirement for voting but the goal is to bring the Voter Registration rolls in line with the voter's photo ID.

If the voter's ID is "substantially similar" to what appears on their voter registration record they will be allowed to vote a regular ballot. If the information on the ID is NOT "substantially similar" the voter may be offered a provisional ballot.

What is a "substantially similar" name?

  1. When the name on the ID is slightly different from what is shown on the voter's registration records (e.g., Browne vs. Brown)

  2. When the name on the ID is a customary variation of the formal name (e.g., Bob for Robert or Bill for William)

  3. When the voter's name contains an initial, middle name, or former name that is not on the voter registration rolls (e.g., Samuel A. Bates vs. Samuel Abraham Bates or Norma Jean Smith vs. Jean Smith Blackwell or Jean S. Blackwell [where Blackwell is her husband's surname name which she assumed upon being married]) or

  4. Where one of the voter's names is in a different field on the ID than it is on the voter rolls (e.g., Michael Jay Black vs. Jay Michael Black)

If I have a "substantially similar" name will I be prohibited from voting?

No! The goal is to have the name on your voter registration record match the name on your photo ID. If it is determined that you have a "substantially similar" name you will be given the opportunity to fill out a form to correct the discrepancy but this will not keep you from voting normally.

What if the name on my voter registration roll is not "substantially similar" to the name on my photo ID? What then?

If the names on your photo ID and the voter registration records are not identical or similar, then you will always have the option of voting a provisional ballot.

In addition, you have the option of showing one of the acceptable forms of photo IDs to the Voter Registrar's Office in your county within six calendar days following the election. If you show them either an acceptable form of photo ID or one of the perscribed legal documents and submit a "Similar Name affidavit" stating that you are the same person as the person shown on the voter rolls then your provisional ballot will be accepted, assuming this is the only reason for you were asked to vote provisionally.

Can I update my voter registration record online so I can avoid dealing with this at a polling location?

Yes! If you want to correct the name on your voter registration record prior to going to the polls you may do so up to thirty days prior to the election. In order to do this you will need to have a couple of documents handy. The first is your driver's license. The second is your voter registration card. And thirdly you will need to know the last four digits of your Social Security Number. With these in hand you may go to the Secretary of State's Website and start the process.

  • You will be asked to enter your Texas Driver's License or Identification Number into a form.

  • Next you will need to put in your date of birth, the last four digits of your social security number, and your DPS Audit Number (which is found on your driver's license or DPS ID card)

  • Then you will be asked to enter your Voter Unique Identification Number (VUID) from your voter registration card and finally to identify your county.

This will log you into a form that you can fill out online to update your voter registration record at the Secretary of State's office in Austin. Remember, in order for this to take effect it must be done at least 30 days prior to an election.

See the Voter ID Requirements