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Voting in Texas: Tools and Tips

Individual Rights

Learn where and how to vote in Texas.

This FAQ was compiled by TexasLawHelp from several sources, all of which are government agencies or nonpartisan nonprofit organizations. 

 

 

 

When do I vote?

All cities and counties in Texas will have elections on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. In order to vote in the November 8, 2022 election, you must be registered to vote by October 11, 2022.  See Important Election Dates.

Poll hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day (see Texas Elections Code 41.031) but hours during early voting may vary by county. Check with your county election officials, or search the League of Women Voters' web site (https://www.vote411.org/) to find your polling site.

See VoteTexas.gov

In Texas, a political subdivision may hold an election on:

  • the first Saturday in May in an odd-numbered year;
  • the first Saturday in May in an even-numbered year, for an election held by a political subdivision other than a county; or
  • the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Where do I vote?

Several tools can help you figure out where to vote. 

  • Vote411 (type in your address and click on the "submit" button to find out what will be on your ballot and where to vote)
  • MyVoterPage (a service of the Texas Secretary of State)

In addition to the Texas Poll Locator, these counties—and possibly others—offer poll locator and ballot tools at the links below. 

You may want to check with your county, too, if it is not listed above. The Texas Secretary of State lists county election administrators.

Am I already registered to vote? If not, how can I register?

You can confirm whether you are registered to vote by visiting the “Am I Registered?” tool at the website of the Texas Secretary of State. You can enter information such as your driver’s license and date of birth, or voter ID number if you have it. 

Texas does not have online voter registration. However, you can fill out a printable voter registration application from the Secretary of State’s website. This application MUST be printed out and mailed in to register.

You can also request a mailed voter registration application from the Secretary of State or you can contact your county voter registration officials for an application. 

For more information about voter registration, visit Voter Registration Basics.

What kind of ID do I need to vote?

According to the Texas Secretary of State, the following forms of identification are acceptable:

  • 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 Handgun License issued by DPS
  • United States Military Identification Card containing your photograph
  • United States Citizenship Certificate containing your photograph
  • United States Passport (book or card)

Note: A student ID is not an acceptable ID under current Texas law.

See Required Identification for Voting in Person and What will I need in order to vote in person on election day or during early voting?

My ID is expired. Can I still use it to vote?

Yes. If you are under 70 years old, you can use an expired license to vote as long as it expired within the last four years. If you are 70 or older, it does not matter when your ID expired, you can always use it to vote.

If I do not have an accepted photo ID, is there a way for me to vote?

Yes, you may still be able to vote if you can show one of the following "supporting" forms of ID and cannot reasonably obtain an acceptable photo ID:

  • voter registration certificate;
  • current utility bill;
  • bank statement;
  • government check;
  • paycheck;
  • certified birth certificate; or
  • any other government-issued document (such as an out-of-state driver's license)

Note: A student ID is not a supporting ID under current Texas law.

If you must use one of the forms of supporting ID listed above, you will also have to sign a "Reasonable Impediment Declaration," swearing that you could not reasonably obtain an acceptable form of ID.  A "reasonable impediment"  includes lack of transportation, disability or illness, lack of birth certificate or other documents needed to obtain acceptable photo ID, work schedule, family responsibilities, lost or stolen ID, or acceptable form of ID applied for but not received.

What is early voting?

Rather than waiting until Election Day, you can vote early and in person. There are advantages to voting early, like having multiple places to vote and potentially shorter wait times. Any registered voter can vote during the early voting period.

For more information, see the Texas Secretary of State's page on early voting. The League of Women Voters also has information about early voting on its web page under "voter info."

Check with your county elections officials for locations and procedures.

What is the wait time at the polls?

Some Texas counties may offer apps that let you check wait times in real time at voting stations. Examples:

If I am still waiting in line at the time polls close, will I be able to vote?

If you are in line to vote at the time polls close, you must be allowed to cast a ballot. However, if you leave the line for any reason after the posted polling hours, you may not be able to vote.

Who can vote by mail?

In Texas, you can apply to vote by mail if you are:

  • age 65 or older;
  • disabled;
  • out of the county on election day and during early voting; 
  • be expected to give birth with three weeks before or after Election Day;
  • in jail but otherwise eligible; or
  • participating in the address confidentiality program administered by the Texas attorney general's office.

You can print out an Application for a Ballot by Mail from the Texas Secretary of State's website.  For the March 1, 2022 election, your application to vote by mail must be received by your county's election officials by February 18, 2022.

If you are in the military or live overseas, see Military & Overseas Voters to learn what to do to obtain and cast your ballot.

Voting by mail is also known as voting absentee or voting early by mail. 

Can I vote by mail if I am at risk for COVID-19?

Being at risk for coronavirus does not, by itself, qualify voters to vote by mail in Texas. You can vote early by mail in Texas under the circumstances described in the "Who can vote by mail?" section above. The Texas Supreme Court held in a May 2020 opinion that a prospective voter's lack of immunity to COVID-19, without more, is not a 'disability' as defined by the Texas Election Code." At the same time, "election officials have no responsibility to question or investigate a ballot application that is valid on its face. The decision to apply to vote by mail based on a disability is the voter’s, subject to a correct understanding of the statutory definition of 'disability.'”  Actually having an active COVID-19 illness might qualify as a disability. Seek legal advice in this situation or call the election protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE for assistance.

See also Voting During COVID-19 for more information. 

I am eligible to vote by mail. How do I get my ballot?

If you are eligible to vote by mail, you must apply to receive your mail-in ballot.  Even if you have previously voted by mail, you must apply to vote by mail every year. 

You can print an Application for a Ballot by Mail from the Texas Secretary of State's website or you can request that an application be mailed to you. You must complete the application and return it to your local county election official. Mailing addresses for county election officials can be found here.  

Because of the 2021 Texas election law passed, you must also provide a Voter ID number (TX Driver's License, Personal Identification, Election Identification Certificate Number, or the last four of SSN). You must use the same Voter ID number that you used on your initial voter registration application. If you are unsure which number you used to register, you should include all of the ID numbers you have. Be sure to also include your contact information so that your county clerk may contact you if there is a problem with your application.

Because the upcoming March 1, 2022 election is a primary election, make sure to check the box for which party's primary you would like to vote in.

An application to vote by mail for the March 1, 2022 primary election must be received by your county's election officials by February 18, 2022. If your application is not received by this deadline, you will not be able to vote by mail.

Once your application is approved, your county will send you your ballot. You can track the status of your vote by mail application and ballot on the Secretary of State's website here.

The League of Women Voters also offers detailed instructions about how to vote by mail.

I received my vote by mail ballot. Now what?

  • Complete your ballot using a black or blue pen. Be sure to check both sides of all pages of your ballot to ensure you vote in all races.

  • Place your completed ballot in the ballot envelope and seal it.

  • Place the sealed ballot envelope in the carrier envelope 

  • Complete all of the required information on the carrier envelope, seal it, and sign the flap of the carrier envelope.

  • Sign the carrier envelope with the same signature you used on your application.

  • Because of the new Texas election law passed in 2021, you must also provide a Voter ID number (TXDL, Personal ID, EIC Number or, if not available, the last four of SSN).  Be sure to use the same Voter ID number that you used on your vote by mail application.

  • Mail in your ballot as soon as possible or drop off at a county collection site. Your ballot must be received by your election official by 7pm on Election Day.

  • Once you have sent your ballot, you can track the status of your ballot on the Secretary of State's website here.

    The League of Women Voters also offers detailed instructions about how to vote by mail.

Can I drop off mail-in ballot instead of mailing it?

Once you have completed your mail-in ballot, you should be able to drop off your ballot at the election office or a designated site in your county. Check with your county officials about their specific procedures and ballot drop-off locations. You will need to bring your acceptable photo ID to turn in your ballot.

Where can I learn about what's on the ballot?

The League of Women Voters - Texas offers a nonpartisan guide to candidates and issues like constitutional amendments and propositions. 

Finding out about local candidates, such as city-, county-, or school district-level, may require you to do some research. The website of the Texas Secretary of State has links to Texas counties' voting information, which may have information about local races. You should also check your city’s official website, and local news sources. 

The League of Women Voters also has regional chapters, so go to its website and type your ZIP code into the box that says "Find Your League" to see if there is one that serves your area. 

What is curbside voting and how does it work?

According to the Texas Secretary of State, curbside voting is an option for voters who are physically unable to enter the polling place.

If you need curbside voting, the steps are:

  • Go to the poll.
  • Ask an election officer to bring a ballot to you, either:
    • at the entrance of the polling place, or
    • to the car you are inside, parked curbside.
  • Mark your ballot .
  • Give the marked ballot to the election officer. 
  • The election officer puts the ballot in the ballot box. (Or, at the voter’s request, a companion may hand the voter a ballot and deposit it for the voter.)

See Voters With Disabilities

What can I do if I'm told I cannot vote?

If you try to vote but are told you cannot vote, call the Election Protection hotlines before leaving the polling location.

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) English
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (839-8682) Spanish
  • 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Bengali, Urdu, Hindi, and Tagalog
  • 844-YALLA-US (844-925-5287) Arabic
  • 301-818-VOTE (301-818-8683) American Sign Language (video call)
  • 888-796-VOTE Disability Rights Texas 

You may also be able to cast a provisional ballot.

What is a provisional ballot?

If you are a registered voter—but are told at the poll that you cannot vote for one of the reasons below—you might still be able to vote using a provisional ballot

You may be turned away if you:

  • did not present a compliant ID (either an "acceptable ID" or a "supporting ID" with a Reasonable Impediment Declaration),
  • are not on the list of registered voters, or
  • applied for a mail-in ballot and did not bring it with you to cancel.

To cast a provisional ballot, you complete an affidavit of provisional voter.  If you cast a provisional ballot because you did not have ID, you will have to go to the voter registrar's office within six calendar days of the election and present a compliant ID for your vote to be counted.

If you use a provisional ballot, you will be notified on the status  

For more, read the section on provisional voting at VoteTexas.gov's FAQ section and Texas Provisional Voting by the League of Women Voters.

What activities are prohibited at the polls?

Under Texas law, you cannot do—or wear—certain things within 100 feet of the outside door of a polling station if it promotes a candidate, party, or measure that's on the ballot. 

For example, you cannot:

  • use wireless communications devices like cell phones; 
  • take selfies;
  • record sound or images;
  • bring a firearm onto the premises of a polling place (unless you are a law enforcement officer); 
  • engage in electioneering.
    • "Electioneering" can mean expressing a preference for a candidate, such as posting or passing out political signs or literature.
    • You can remove or conceal buttons, pins, and clothing (even masks or face coverings) favoring your candidate (which can be as simple as putting on a jacket or turning your T-shirt inside out).
See Certain Activities in Vicinity of Polling Places (election advisory from Texas Secretary of State, October 3, 2020) and Texas Elections Code 61.003

What do you do if you are being intimidated at the polls?

Call the Election Protection Hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE, for help proceeding in this situation. Talk to a poll worker or other election official.

The American Civil Liberties Union also recommends contacting the U.S. Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline: 800-253-3931; TTY line 877-267-8971, or reporting incidents to local and state officials, including poll workers and county election officials. See Know Your Rights: Voting Rights.

Document your concerns (remembering that there are activities that you cannot do within 100 feet of the outside door of a polling station). Note what is happening; who is doing it; what is being worn (like insignia, uniforms, T-shirt slogans, etc); and whether they are armed.

Voter intimidation is not allowed and should be reported. 

What does Texas law say about paid time off for voting?

You are only entitled to paid time off for voting under very limited circumstances, according to guidance from the Texas Workforce Commission. You may have at least two paid hours off to vote on an election day unless you have already voted during early voting, or have at least two consecutive hours to vote outside of your normal working hours.

Can I wear a mask when I vote?

Masks can be worn in polling locations, but they are not required. If you choose to wear a mask, poll workers can ask you to remove your face covering if they need to confirm your identity, according to the office of the Texas Secretary of State. You do not have to completely remove it. See Health Protocols for Voters.

You cannot wear masks or face coverings that promote a candidate, party, or measure that's on the ballot. 

I lost everything in a natural disaster. Can I still vote?

You can still vote if you were affected by a natural disaster such as flooding. See Voting Issues for Texas Evacuees Due to Natural Disasters at the Texas Secretary of State's website. 

I have a felony on my record. Can I vote?

If you have a felony on your record, it might be possible for you to vote. Get legal advice to confirm what your particular circumstances are. According to the Texas Secretary of State's office:

In Texas, a convicted felon regains the right to vote after completing his or her sentence. Therefore, once you have completed the punishment phase (including any term of incarceration, parole, or supervision, or completed a period of probation ordered by the court. This is also commonly referred to as "off paper."), you would be eligible to register and vote in the state of Texas.

The Texas Constitution says that people convicted of a felony are not allowed to vote. But there are exceptions; as the Texas Secretary of State's office's web site says, someone who has a felony on their record may be able to vote if they served and fully discharged their sentence, or were pardoned.

See Texas Elections Code 11.002(4) and Restrictions on Convicted Felons in Texas (at the Texas State Law Library, which has links to the state constitution and election code). 

I am behind on child support. Can I vote?

The Texas Elections Code does not list being behind on your child support obligations, in and of itself, as something disqualifying you from voting. See Texas Elections Code 11.002. As long as you are (1) a U.S. citizen, (2) registered to vote, (3) not mentally incapacitated (as determined by a court), and (4) a Texas resident, you can vote. Being in arrears on child support is not listed among the reasons that could disqualify you from voting. 

That said, if you have been convicted of a felony and have not fully discharged the terms of the sentence (like serving your time, completing your sentence, etc.), you might be disqualified from voting. The Office of the Attorney General has methods for enforcing child support nonpayment. There are serious consequences for not paying child support, but losing the right to vote is not one of them. 

There is a criminal nonsupport statute in Texas that is a state jail felony (see Texas Penal Code 25.05), so if you have been convicted of criminal nonsupport AND have not discharged your sentence, that is a situation in which nonpayment of child support could affect your right to vote. If this may be an issue, talk to a lawyer. 

Do I have to be a member of a political party to vote in a primary election?

No, you do not have to be a member of a party to vote in that party's primary election. Texas has open primaries, which means all Texas voters can participate. Even if you do not strongly identify with any political party, you can consider the candidate choices and participate in one of the primaries.

However, you can only vote in one party's primary in each election. And if there is a runoff from that election, you can only vote in the same party’s runoff election. 

Voting in one party’s primary election, convention or runoff election does NOT commit you to vote for a particular candidate in the General Election. You can still vote for any candidate of your choice, regardless of party, in the General Election.

When do run-off elections happen?

If there is not a clear winner in a race there will sometimes be another election to decide who will be elected to that office.

Run-off elections are governed by Texas Elections Code chapter 2. Check your local media outlets for more information to find out what races have gone into a run-off.

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