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Elections and Voter Information

Voter Information

Election Advisory No. 2013-14

To: All Counties, County Chairs, Cities, School Districts, and Other Political Subdivisions
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Date: October 24, 2013
RE: Substantially Similar Names and Voting

Our office would like to remind all election officials about the proper procedures regarding the substantially similar name procedure at polling places.

Please remember that voters’ names, as they appear on their IDs and the list of registered voters, do not have to be identical or exact matches to vote. If a voter’s name is not identical, but is substantially similar, the voter will need to initial the similar name affidavit, and then proceed as usual to vote a regular ballot.

Voters do not need to show additional documentation if their names are identical or substantially similar. No voter should be turned away, and voters with substantially similar names should be offered a regular ballot - not a provisional ballot.

Please contact our Legal Team at (800) 252-2216, option 2 if you need additional assistance or have any questions on applying substantially similar name standards. If you have questions on updating a voter’s registration in TEAM after they complete a name update form, please contact our VR Team at (800) 252-2216, option 1.

The following categories are examples of names that are substantially similar:

  1. Initial, Middle and Former Names: If a voter has an initial, middle or former name on their ID that does not appear on the list of registered voters, or vice versa, it is a substantially similar name.

    Please note that this category will include women that have changed their name or hyphenated their name due to marriage or divorce.

    Please consider the following examples on substantially similar names that we’ve put together using the names of famous Texans:

    List of Registered Voters Name on ID Note
    Carole Keeton Rylander Carole Keeton Strayhorn Ms. Strayhorn’s former name, “Rylander” appears on the list of voters, but not the ID.
    Lyndon Johnson Lyndon Baines Johnson President Johnson’s middle name appears on the ID, but not the list of registered voters.
    Barbara Bush Barbara Pierce Ms. Bush’s former name/maiden name “Pierce” appears on the ID, but not the list of registered voters.
    Audie L. Murphy Audie Murphy Mr. Murphy’s initial appears on the list of registered voters, but not the ID.
    Beyonce Knowles-Carter Beyonce Giselle Knowles Ms. Knowles-Carter’s middle name appears on the ID, but not the list of registered voters.
  2. Names Appearing in Different Fields: If a voter’s names as they appear on the list registered voters and ID occupy different fields, the names are substantially similar

    Please note that this category will include women that have changed their name or hyphenated their name due to marriage or divorce.

    Please consider the following examples:

    List of Registered Voters Name on ID Note
    Sandra Day Sandra Day O’Connor Justice O’Connor’s maiden name “Day” occupies the last name field on the list of registered voters, but occupies the middle name field on the ID.
    Beyonce Knowles-Carter Beyonce Knowles Ms. Knowles-Carter’s maiden name is kept as her last name, and occupies a part of the last name field, but not the complete field. We consider this a different field substantially similar name. We consider this a different field substantially similar name.
  3. Customary Variation of Names: If a voter has a customary variation of their given name on either the list of registered voters or their ID, the names are substantially similar.

    Please consider the following examples:

    List of Registered Voters Name on ID Note
    Sam Houston Samuel Houston Sam is a customary variation of Samuel.
    Esperanza Andrade Hope Andrade Secretary Andrade’s given name is Esperanza which is Spanish for Hope, and a customary variation of Esperanza.
  4. Slightly Different Names: If a voter’s name on the list registered voters is slightly different than their name as printed on their ID, or vice versa, the names are substantially similar.

    Please note this category encompasses voters whose names have been misspelled on their ID or the list of registered voters, including common different spellings, e.g. Marc/Mark or Nancy/Nanci as noted below.

    Please consider the following examples:

    List of Registered Voters Name on ID Note
    Dorris Miller Doris Miller Mr. Miller’s name was spelled with one “r” – Doris.
    Nanci Griffith Nancy Griffith Ms. Griffith’s name is spelled “Nanci.”
    Marc Cuban Mark Cuban Mr. Cuban first name is spelled “Marc” with a “c.”
    Jamie Fox Jamie Foxx Mr. Foxx’s last name is “Foxx” not “Fox”

Totality of the Circumstances

Please remember that election officials should use all information available to them when making a determination on substantially to assist the voter. In the example below, the list of registered voters has “Claudia Lady Bird Taylor” but the driver’s license has “Lady Bird Johnson.” In comparing the names, the election official should also compare the address, date of birth, and photograph to assist in making a determination and assist in verifying the voter’s identity. In this case, the address and date of birth match exactly, which should assist the election official in verifying Ms. Johnson’s identity.

Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor Johnson