Texas recently changed its voter ID laws to curb voter suppression -- here's what to know

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Until recently, Texas had some of the strictest barriers to voting in the U.S.

Conservatives passed restrictions in 2011 that required certain kinds of government-issued photo identification to vote in Texas. But Democrats argued the law made voting difficult for Texans who cannot get a passport of driver's license.

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In July, a federal court said requiring government-issued photo ID discriminated against minorities. The state weakened the law under court order to allow voting without one of seven forms of ID the law recognized. Texans can now vote with documents like a paycheck or utility bill — as long as they give a reason for why they could not get photo ID.

Learn more about the previous voter ID laws in Texas

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Texas voting rights, Voter ID Law
FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2014 file photo, an election official checks a voter's photo identification at an early voting polling site in Austin, Texas. As voters take to polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, they'll encounter a set of rules about their registration, the need to show a photo ID and casting a provisional ballot if they encounter a problem that have changed substantially in some states in the past two years - and, in some cases, remain subject to court fights over their constitutionality. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2013 file photo, a sign in a window tells of photo ID requirements for voting at a polling location in Richardson, Texas. Overshadowed in a big election year for Texas is a big trial coming over how ballots are now cast: under a tough new voter ID law. A trial begins Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, in Corpus Christi over one of the most stringent voter ID measures in the nation. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos will decide whether the Texas law is a legal safeguard or a discriminatory mandate that suppresses minority turnout. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, a voter shows his photo identification to an election official at an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas. In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots _ the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, "I Voted Early" stickers are seen at an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas. In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots _ the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, an election official checks waits for voters at an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas. In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots _ the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, a voter casts his ballot at an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas. In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots _ the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, pedestrians pass voting signs near an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas. In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots _ the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, an election official checks a voter's photo identification at an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas. In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots _ the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
FILE - In this July 29, 2005, file photo, former House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas stands next to the Texas pillar while touring the World War II Memorial in Washington. Wright was initially denied a certificate to vote in Texas because he didn’t have proper documentation under Texas’ Voter ID law, which will be enforced for the first time during Tuesday’s election. (AP Photo/Yuri Gripas, File)
Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, speaks during a news conference Monday, March 9, 2009, in Austin, Texas. A partisan clash is due in the Texas Senate Tuesday, when lawmakers take up a bill designed to tighten voter ID requirements. The bill would require Texans to prove their eligibility before voting. Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso is on the left. Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas is on the right. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
Ruben Vazquez, 77, from Marion, Texas, attends a news conference outside the Capitol Monday, April 23, 2007, in Austin, Texas. He joined in support of speakers who oppose a proposed bill that would require all voters to show a photo identification before voting. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, foreground, speaks during a news conference outside the Capitol Monday, April 23, 2007, in Austin, Texas. He joined other speakers to oppose a proposed bill that would require all voters to show a photo identification before voting. In the background at left is Rep. Terri Hodge, D-Dallas, and Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
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Texas legislators are not alone in increasing barriers to voting. North Carolina's similar voter ID law was recently struck down after a court said Republicans aimed to decrease the influence of African-American voters. This year's Republican platform called for stricter voter ID laws across the country.

Texas recently changed its voter ID laws to curb voter suppression — here's what to know
Voter identification laws by state as of September 2016. Texas had a "strict photo ID" law until a federal court said the law was illegal in July.
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures/National Conference of State Legislatures

Research has repeatedly shown voter fraud is nearly nonexistent nationwide. Most studies found no more than a few dozen instances of voter fraud out of more than one billion votes cast over twelve years.

Here's what you need to vote in Texas:

One of seven government-issued photo IDs:

Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
Texas license to carry a handgun issued by DPS
United States military identification card containing the person's photograph
United States citizenship certificate containing the person's photograph
United States passport

If you do not have one of these forms of ID, the July federal court decision allows you to present one of the following in order to vote:

Valid voter registration certificate
Certified birth certificate (must be an original)
Copy of or original current utility bill
Copy of or original bank statement
Copy of or original government check
Copy of or original paycheck
Copy of or original government document with your name and an address (original required if it contains a photograph)

Voters who present one of these latter forms of ID must sign an affidavit that says they are who they say they are.

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