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Here’s what you need to know about how to vote in November’s elections in Texas

The presidential elections are less than a month and half away.

Our readers have shared a keen interest in these elections, and we’ve fielded their questions about how to vote. We’ve had some recurring inquiries, so in honor of National Voter Registration Day today, we’ve put all of your frequently asked questions in one place.

When is the election?

Election Day for the presidential elections is on Nov. 3. Early voting will be available from Oct. 13 to Oct. 30.

How do I register to vote?

You can check your voter registration with your county elections administrator (DallasCountyVotes.org for Dallas) or on the Secretary of State’s.

If you are not registered, you have until Oct. 5 to sign up to vote in the November elections. In Dallas County, you can download an application from the election administrator’s office. Other counties also offer their application online. You can also request an application online from the Secretary of State’s office. Once the application is sent to you, fill it out and return it to your local elections administrator.

In Dallas County, you can drop off your application at one of 65 application drop-off locations. You can also register to vote in person at the elections office at 1520 Round Table Drive.

If you are mailing your application, it must be postmarked no later than Oct. 5 in order to be processed.

I registered to vote, but I moved recently. Do I need to re-register?

If you moved within the same county, all you need to do is call your county elections administrator and change your registration to your new address.

However, if you moved to a different county you will need to register again with your new county. That registration will cancel your registration at your old county.

I sent in my voter registration and got the little orange and white card to check if my information is correct. Do I need to designate the party I want to be affiliated with?

That is your Voter Registration Certificate and it’s proof that you’re registered to vote. Review the information on the card to make sure it’s accurate. If you see any errors, correct them and mail it back to your county registrar. Otherwise, just hold on to it and don’t forget to sign it.

In Texas, you don’t have to register with a political party. The only time you’ll be asked about this is in primary elections or in runoffs and you’ll only be allowed to vote for the party you choose. But in general elections, this isn’t an issue.

Does my address on my driver’s license and voter registration need to match?

No. The state does not require your driver’s license address to match your voter registration card.

While it’s always good to have your license up to date, nearly 700,000 Texas driver’s licenses expired when the Department of Public Safety shut down licensing operations early in the pandemic.

That has created a backlog in expired licenses. But state officials say that will not impact voting and those licenses may still be used as a form of photo ID at the polls.

The state’s voter identification law allows voters to cast a ballot with a license that has been expired for up to four years. Voters over 70 can use any expired license.

What forms of documentation can I use to meet the state’s voter ID rules?

You must provide one of the seven following types of photo ID:

  • Texas driver’s license
  • Texas election ID certificate
  • Texas personal ID card
  • Texas handgun license
  • U.S. citizenship certificate with photo
  • U.S. Military ID card with photo
  • U.S. passport

If you cannot reasonably obtain one of these, you may still cast a ballot by signing a reasonable impediment Declaration and providing one of the following:

  • Birth certificate
  • Current utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Government check
  • Paycheck
  • Government address with your name and address including your voter registration certificate

How can I vote by mail?

Texas does not have “no excuse” mail voting. There have been efforts to expand mail voting to all Texas voters during the pandemic, but those have been stopped by courts.

The Supreme Court of Texas has said that lack of immunity to COVID-19 alone does not qualify a person to vote by mail. Voters must have another physical condition that prevents them from going to the polls because of risk to their health.

But the court has not specified what those conditions are. It has left that determination up to voters, who risk violating state law.

To qualify to vote by mail, Texans must fall under one of four qualifications.

  • Be 65 or older.
  • Plan to be away from your county of residence for the duration of the election (this will include members of the military, college students and those stationed overseas for work)
  • Have a disability.
  • Be confined in jail without having been finally convicted of a felony.

Read our story on how to apply to vote by mail and pitfalls to avoid when trying to do so.

I requested a mail ballot but haven’t received one. What’s the deal?

Texas begins sending mail ballots beginning 45 days before an election. That 45-day threshold was Sept. 19, so mail ballots were just sent out this weekend.

If you still don’t see your ballot in the next few weeks, you should contact your local election administrator.

After that threshold, elections administrators will have no more than seven days to process new applications for mail ballots.

When does voting start?

Gov. Greg Abbott has expanded early voting by six days this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That means early voting will begin Oct. 13 and run through Oct. 30.

In Dallas County, early voting locations will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. A full list of early voting locations can be found at dallacountyvotes.org. In Dallas County, registered voters can cast their ballot at any early voting location.

Abbott’s directives also allow people who registered to vote by mail to deliver their mail ballots in person to the early voting clerk’s office during the extent of early voting and Election Day. Usually, mail ballots can only be delivered in person on Election Day.

Some Dallas voters who cast mail ballots in the July primary runoffs are wary of mail voting because their ballots didn’t reach the elections office in time to be counted. If you’re worried about this for November, the Dallas county elections office provides a list of the mail ballots they receive each day or you can call them at 469-627-8683 to check the status of your ballot.

By state law, all early voting clerks have to maintain a daily register of the ballots cast in each of their polling locations and publish that list on their website. So if you live outside of Dallas County, you can call your elections administrator’s office and check if they’ve received your mail ballot.

When is the best day to vote?

The advice from local election administration officials is to try cast your ballot during early voting, if possible. That way, if the lines are too long for your taste on one day, you can always try again on another.

The first day of early voting is sometimes busy because enthusiastic voters want to get their ballots in. The last day of early voting and Election Day are also busy because people wait until the last minute.

Elections officials suggest voting during off-peak hours in the middle of the week during the early voting period.

Are there ballot drop-off sites in Texas?

No, the Texas election code does not allow them. But if you have asked for a mail ballot and qualify, Abbott’s order has made it so that you can drop off your ballots in person at your county’s early voting clerk’s office during early voting and on Election Day. You will still need to provide a photo ID.

The closest thing we have is early voting, which if done at polling locations that aren’t busy may only take a few minutes.

What if I’m attending college out of state but reside in Texas and want to vote?

Request a mail ballot.

Where can I vote?

Each county will list their early voting sites on their website.

If you plan on early voting, here are all the Dallas County and Tarrant County voting centers that will be open during that period.

The Election Day polling locations are still being finalized for Dallas County. But one location we know will be used is the American Airlines Center, which will be used as voting supercenter on Election Day.

These are the vote centers for Tarrant County on Election Day.

Dallas and Tarrant have both moved to county-wide vote centers. That means voters here can cast their ballot at any of the open polling locations in the county, increasing voter flexibility and convenience.

Is curbside voting available?

Yes. Curbside voting must be available at all polling locations for voters who are physically unable to enter a polling location without personal assistance or have a likelihood of injuring their health.

If you have a voting assistant with you, they can notify an election official inside the polling place that you are requesting curbside voting. In Dallas County, you can call 214-819-6338 to tell election officials you will need curbside voting.

Election officials will check that you meet the requirements to curbside vote and then bring you everything you need to cast your vote.

Once you fill out your ballot, the election official takes it back inside to be cast like any other vote.

Voters are not required to wear masks, but they are encouraged to do so. Election officials assisting voters who are curbside voting are required to wear face coverings, as is anyone who is assisting the curbside voter.

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