Hey, Texans! It's Election Day. Are you registered, and do you know how to vote?
Just in case you’ve waited until now to cast a ballot, we offer up this reminder of what you’ll need when you head to the polls.
Are you registered?
The Texas Secretary of State’s office has a tool on its website where voters can ensure they are able to cast a ballot. Some county governments also offer a similar tool on their websites. (For example, here is Harris County’s, and here is El Paso County’s.) A quick search of your local election department’s website should let you know if you can check your registration status there.
Where do you vote?
If you want to skip what could be long lines on Tuesday, you can still vote early today. In Texas, voters can cast a ballot at any polling place during early voting. But - and this is important – some counties require voters go to their specific precincts if they vote on Election Day. That’s because some counties still use a precinct model. Only about a third of Texas’ 254 counties have moved away from that and to the vote-center model.
“Vote-center process is that you can go anywhere in this county and vote on Election Day,” explained Lubbock County’s Elections Administrator Roxzine Stinson to Texas Tech Public Media. “Precinct-based, if you don’t get there by 7 o’clock, you vote a provisional in another precinct and your vote’s most likely not going to count. This way, you don’t have to worry about that.”
What do you need to cast your ballot?
You’ll be asked for one of seven acceptable forms of photo identification, including a Texas drivers license, Texas handgun license, U.S. citizenship certificate, passport or passport card. Voters younger than 70 years of age can use IDs that expired within the last four years. For voters over 70, IDs expired for any length of time can still be used.
If you don’t have one of the seven acceptable forms of photo ID, you can still cast a regular ballot using a supportive form of identification like a utility bill, bank statement or paycheck, KUT reported last month. A person will have to fill out a form declaring they don’t have one of the acceptable forms of photo ID and that they had a reasonable impediment to acquiring one. The list of impediments to choose from includes lack of transportation, lack of certain documents like a birth certificate, lost identifications, work schedule, disability or illness, family responsibilities, or that you applied for one of the photo IDs but had not received it.
Assistant Secretary of State for Communications Sam Taylor told KUT fewer than 1% of voters statewide had used the form in 2016, 2018 and 2020.
What’s on the ballot?
A lot. Texas voters will decide the races for Texas governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. And that’s just at the top of the ballot. Several counties are electing county judges for the next four-year terms. There are also several seats for U.S. Congress on local ballots, including some in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, where Republicans have focused their energy on making gains in traditionally Democratic strongholds.
We vote on Tuesdays in the United States because in 1845, the U.S. Congress passed a law that created a national election day on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, according to the encyclopedia Britannica.
Back then the country was largely agrarian, and much of the earlier part of the year was spent in the fields harvesting crops. Wednesdays were a no-go because that was a market day, and Sundays were reserved for worship, the Britannica explained. So, it’s been a Tuesday for almost 180 years.
“If people couldn’t use Sunday or Wednesday as their travel day, then that meant election day couldn’t be on Monday or Thursday, either. And so Tuesday was perceived as the best option,” wrote John M. Cunningham, the former editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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Got a tip? Email Julián Aguilar at firstname.lastname@example.org.You can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar