It’s Election Day. Here’s what you need to vote in Texas.
By María Méndez, The Texas Tribune
“It’s Election Day. Here’s what you need to vote in Texas.” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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There is no presidential election this year, but this year’s Election Day, Nov. 8, will define the future of Texas.
Texans can cast their ballots for the state’s top leaders — governor, attorney general, lieutenant governor — and several other statewide elected officials in the midterm elections, as well as district-based representatives in the United States Congress, the Texas Legislature and the State Board of Education. Judges from the state’s top courts to county courts are also on the ballot. Some Texas communities will also hold local elections for school board, city or county seats and local initiatives.
These elected officials have a say in how much Texans pay in taxes, what students learn in public schools, what health care — including reproductive health care — is available and many more facets of people’s lives.
Want to have a say in Texas government and politics? Here’s what you need to know about voting and results on Election Day.
When and where can I vote?
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time on Election Day. If you registered to vote by Oct. 11 and meet all other requirements, you have a right to cast a ballot as long as you’re in line at a polling location by 7 p.m.
On Election Day, some counties may require you to vote at a location specific to your precinct, which can be found on your voter registration certificate or by checking your registration online.
You can find a list of counties where voters can vote at any county polling location on Election Day from the Texas secretary of state’s office.
You can also use the secretary of state’s website to see polling locations, but your county’s own information will be the most up to date. Find your county’s website here. You may also want to consider calling local elections officials to make sure a polling location hasn’t changed or closed.
Need transportation? The rideshare company Lyft will be providing discounted rides on Election Day. Use the VOTE22 code to get a discount of up to $10 during voting hours. Voters can also use it for bikeshare and scooter rides.
What do I need to vote?
You’ll need one of seven types of valid photo ID to vote in Texas:
- A state driver’s license (issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety).
- A Texas election identification certificate (issued by DPS).
- A Texas personal identification card (issued by DPS).
- A Texas license to carry a handgun (issued by DPS).
- A U.S. military ID card with a personal photo.
- A U.S. citizenship certificate with a personal photo.
- A U.S. passport.
If you don’t have an approved photo ID, you can still vote by signing a “reasonable impediment” form and presenting valid supporting identification documents, such as a birth certificate, your voter registration certificate or a current utility bill with your name and address.
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If you forget your ID, you can cast a provisional ballot, which can be counted only if you provide the required photo ID or documents within six days.
If your voter registration shows up as “in suspense,” it means that officials are not sure of your address. But you may still be able to vote by filling out a “statement of residence” at the polls. If you moved and didn’t update your address by the Oct. 11 voter registration deadline, you may be able to vote at your previous polling location if it is within the same county or political subdivision.
If you’re voting by mail within the U.S., your ballot must be postmarked by 7 p.m. on Election Day and received by your county by 5 p.m. Wednesday in order to be counted. Read more about photo IDs, registration requirements and mail-in ballots in our voter guide here.
You can’t use your cellphones or have items advertising candidates, parties or measures on the ballot inside polling places, but you may be able to bring a sample ballot or written notes to help you cast your ballot.
Firearms, including handguns, are also prohibited at polling places, according to Texas law.
Remember to review your ballot for any possible errors. You can get up two additional ballots to make corrections. The incorrect ballots will not be counted.
Voters with disabilities or limited English proficiency can get interpretation, assistance or accommodations to vote. Read more about your rights as a voter in our guide to the polls.
If you run into trouble while voting, you can contact your county elections official, the secretary of state’s office at 1-800-252-VOTE (8683) or voter-protection hotlines from a coalition of voting rights groups. The coalition’s helpline in English is 866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683), and you can find phone numbers for the helpline in other languages here.
Can I vote in person if I requested a mail-in ballot?
The short answer is yes. The process will be more streamlined if you bring your mail-in ballot with you to your polling place so you can surrender it before casting your vote. If you don’t have your ballot or never received it, you can still cast a provisional ballot. Your vote will be counted once the county determines it never received your mail-in ballot.
Voters who were looking to vote by mail because of a sickness or disability may also qualify to vote through curbside voting or an emergency ballot.
To request an emergency ballot, you must designate a representative to submit an application in person on your behalf and have a certified doctor’s note. The application must be received by your county’s early voting clerk before 5 p.m. on Election Day, and your ballot must be returned by the same designated representative before 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.
If you haven’t received your mail-in ballot, contact your county elections office to learn about your possible options.
What’s on the ballot?
You’ll likely have a long ballot. You can enter your address into our ballot lookup tool to see who you can vote for in congressional, state and district-based elections. (Don’t worry: We don’t store your information.)
Need a refresher on who’s running for office in statewide elections, such as for lieutenant governor, comptroller and railroad commissioner, and what powers these elected offices hold? We have a glossary of statewide elected offices with information about the candidates on the ballot this year.
We also have stories about the elections for the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the State Board of Education.
What about local elections? We can’t cover elections across the state’s 254 counties, but we have a guide to navigating elections and vetting candidates for county and school board seats. You can also find local election guides in our ballot lookup tool in our voting guide.
To see who’s on the ballot for local elections in your area, look up a sample ballot on your county’s website or on the website Vote411.org from the League of Women Voters.
When and where can I find election results?
For federal, district and state elections, you can find results on our results page. In addition to the tally and percentage of votes in each race, you can see a map of how Texas counties are voting in the gubernatorial and attorney general races and which party is winning seats in the Texas Legislature and in Congress.
The data is from our partner Decision Desk HQ, which gathers information from the Texas secretary of state’s office and a representative sample of 50 counties to provide estimates as to how many votes are left to be counted and to call the winners.
For local elections, you can find results on your county’s website. Find yours here.
Early-voting results, including from mail-in ballots received early, are typically shared online shortly after polls close at 7 p.m.
After polls close, counties must count results from each polling location within 24 hours of the polls closing. As those votes and more mail-in ballots are counted, those counts are added in increments to the tally, which is then updated online. This may take some time as polling places are closed down — after all eligible voters in line by 7 p.m. have voted — and election materials are transported back to county election officials.
But the results from election night are unofficial because officials must still account for late-arriving mail-in ballots, ballots from military or overseas voters and provisional ballots, which must be verified and counted by Nov. 21. County leaders must finalize the results by Nov. 22, and the state must then review the results for the governor to certify them by Dec. 12.
Learn more about the vote counting process in our look at Texas election safeguards here.
Alexa Ura contributed to this report.
Disclosure: Lyft and Texas Secretary of State have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/11/08/texas-election-day-voting-need-to-know/.
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