hide my visit

Voting in Texas: Tools and Tips

This FAQ was compiled by Texas Legal Services Center from several sources, all of which are government agencies or nonpartisan nonprofit organizations. It is current as of October 16, 2020.

 

See also Voting in Texas: What You Need to Know.

 

 

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.

 

 

When do I vote?

In 2020, early in-person voting for the general election begins on October 13, 2020. The last day of early in-person voting is October 30, 2020. 

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.

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. 

The general election in 2020 is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

 

 

Am I registered to vote?

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. 

 

What is early voting?

Rather than waiting until Election Day (which in 2020 is Tuesday, November 3), you can vote early and in person. There are advantages to voting early, like having multiple places to vote and potentially shorter wait times. Voting early may make it simpler to practice social distancing and protect yourself from coronavirus. In Texas, early voting begins on October 13, 2020. The last date to vote early is October 30, 2020.

See the Texas Secretary of State's page on early voting and the League of Women Voters' page on early voting.

Check with your county elections officials for locations and procedures.

 

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)

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?

 

What is a provisional vote?

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 an acceptable form of ID,
  • are not on the list of registered voters,
  • are registered in another precinct,
  • voted early by mail without cancelling your mail ballot application, or
  • are still in line to vote after the polls close.

To cast a provisional ballot, you complete an affidavit of provisional voter. You will have to go to the voter registrar's office within six calendar days of the election and present a compliant ID. If no ID is available, you may be able to file a reasonable impediment declaration.

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 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:

Expect long wait times. 

 

What can I do if I'm not allowed to vote?

If you try to vote but are turned away, call the Election Protection hotlines.

  • 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 

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
 
 
 

Who can vote by mail?

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

  • age 65 or older;
  • disabled;
  • out of the county on election day and during early voting; 
  • in jail but otherwise eligible; or
  • participating in the address confidentiality program administered by the Texas attorney general's office.

See Application for a Ballot by Mail at the website of the Texas Secretary of State.  

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. 

 

 

How do I vote by mail?

The League of Women Voters offers detailed instructions about how to vote by mail. If you are applying to vote by mail, the application must be received by your county's election officials by October 23, 2020. You cannot apply to vote by mail in 2020 after this.

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

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), 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 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. 

 

 

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

You might be entitled to paid time off for voting under 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.

 

I'm registered to vote but just moved to a new county. Can I vote?

If you are a registered Texas voter but moved to another county, you might be able to vote using a limited ballot. That means you can vote on any statewide races and also for any district offices that overlap between your old county and your new county.

Learn how to cast a limited ballot with this guidance from the Texas Secretary of State's office. See Texas Elections Code 111 and Texas Elections Code 112

 

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 Who can vote by mail? 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 on this issue. 

You can still vote if you were affected by a natural disaster such as flooding, fires, and storms. See Voting Issues for Natural Disaster Evacuees at the Texas Secretary of State's website.

 

 

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. 

 

 

Can I wear a mask when I vote?

According to the office of the Texas Secretary of State, poll workers can ask you to remove your face covering if they need to confirm your identity at the polls. You do not have to completely remove it. See Health Protocols for Voters.

 

 

Where can I drop off an absentee ballot?

If you are qualified to vote absentee, you should be able to drop off your absentee ballot at a designated site. Check with your county about their specific procedures. Bring your ID and follow your county's instructions. As of October 10, 2020, each county in Texas has one ballot drop-off location. 

 

 

How does curbside voting 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