All About Voting in Texas
May 8, 2020
Okay, you are fed up with the Boomers ruining the earth, the economy, and your future. But what can you do about it? Glad you asked…
The Millennial generation now contains more eligible voters than the Boomers. But the Boomers vote at a clip of about 60% while our generation is lucky to get 20% to the polls. And that disparity is THE ONLY REASON BOOMERS ARE STILL CALLING THE SHOTS!
So the fix is obvious: VOTE! But how the heck do we go about doing that? Read on…
Let’s start with the basics…
SECTION A: Who Can Vote?
You must be:
- At least 17 years, 10 months to register to vote;
- A United States citizen;
- A resident of the Texas County in which application for registration is made;
- At least 18 years old on Election Day;
- Not finally convicted of a felony, or, if so convicted must have (1) fully discharged the sentence, including any term of incarceration, parole, or supervision, or completed a period of probation ordered by any court; or (2) been pardoned or otherwise released from the resulting disability to vote; and not determined by a final judgment of a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be (1) totally mentally incapacitated; or (2) partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote.
SECTION B: How Do I Register?
- In your County of Residence, there is a public official charged with registering voters. This site (https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov/MVP/mvp.do) lets you determine if you are ALREADY registered (through driver’s license office, high school, etc.) and will also permit you to fill out your registration online, to be printed, signed, and mailed to your County Deputy Registrar. Texas does not allow you to register online; you must print and mail in your registration form. A list of Election Administrators and their mailing address can be found here: https://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/votregduties.shtml
- But first, how do you determine your County of Residence? Your residence is wherever you say it is…but you must provide a physical address (not a PO Box or mail drop). For instance, suppose your parents live in Hood County, but you now attend school in Stephenville, but you go back to the parents’ house occasionally on weekends. Whichever address you feel is your “residence” is the one you should claim…and then register in that county. NOTE: The address you use to register to vote doesn’t have to match the address on your photo ID. The photo ID used to identify you to the Elections Clerk at the polling place is only to ensure that the “you” standing in front of him is the “you” with your name.
- Fill out the form and mail or take it to the County Voter Registrar’s office. NOTE: There are exceptions to this process if you cannot register yourself. In that case, contact your local Elections Administrator, County Clerk, or Tax Assessor.
- The application must be received in the County Voter Registrar’s office or postmarked 30 days before an election in order for you to be eligible to vote in that election.
- You will receive a voter registration certificate in the mail after the County Voter Registrar has processed your voter registration application. Upon receipt of the voter registration certificate, sign it, fold it, keep in it in your wallet, and take it to the polls with you when you vote. You will automatically receive a new certificate every two years if you haven’t moved from the address at which you are registered.
SECTION C: What About Voter ID?
- The approved forms of Voter ID to show when you vote include:
- 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 the person’s photograph
- United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
- United States passport
- What if you do not possess and cannot reasonably obtain one of these IDs? Fill out a declaration at the polls describing a reasonable impediment to obtaining it, and show a copy or original of one of the following supporting forms of ID:
- A government document that shows your name and address. This can be your voter registration certificate, current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck, or
- A certified domestic (from a U.S. state or territory) birth certificate, or
- A document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes your identity (which may include a foreign birth document).
SECTION D: What If I’ve Moved?
- If you move within the county where you are registered, you can change your address here: https://txapps.texas.gov/tolapp/sos/SOSACManager
- If you have moved to a different county you must register with that county. Follow instructions in SECTION B above.
- You will receive a new certificate with your new address. You will be able to vote in your new precinct 30 days after your change of address is submitted.
SECTION E: Where Do I Vote?
- Your residence is located in a specific “precinct,” which is an area within the county. There are many precincts within a county. The place where you will vote on Election Day is located in your precinct. There may be combined precincts in order to accommodate joint local elections; therefore, in some elections you may vote outside your designated precinct. The County Clerk or County Elections Administrator can give you the specific location of your polling place, or you can check online to see if the County Clerk or Elections Administrator has that information posted, or you can check local newspapers for a list of the polling places by precinct and their addresses. NOTE: In some counties the polling places may not be restricted by precinct. In these cases you may vote in the “voting center” most convenient to you.
SECTION F: What If I’ve Had a Name Change?
- Promptly notify the County Voter Registrar, in writing, of the name change using the same steps as for IF YOU MOVE WITHIN THE COUNTY (SECTION D, 1). You will receive a new certificate 30 days after your name change notice is submitted. You may continue to vote during this period. If you do not have your certificate in hand, you may sign an affidavit at the polls and present a form of identification.
SECTION G: How Can I Vote by Mail (Absentee Ballot)?
- You may vote by absentee ballot in Texas if:
- You are 65 years or older;
- You are disabled (the determination whether you are disabled or not is made by you, and you alone);
- You will be out of the county on Election Day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance; or
- You are confined in jail, but otherwise eligible.
- You must first request a ballot. Get the request form and instructions from the Texas Secretary of State website (https://www.sos.texas.gov/elections/voter/reqabbm.shtml) or from the Texas Democratic Party “Request to Vote by Mail” application form (https://www.texasdemocrats.org/my-texas-votes-2/vote-by-mail/) Follow all instructions in preparing the application request form.
- Sign and date the form.
- Return your completed application to your Local Election Office as soon as possible. Your County Clerk or Tax Accessor can provide you the correct mailing address for your County or go here: https://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/votregduties.shtml
- All Local Election Offices will accept mailed or hand-delivered forms.
- Make sure your application is received by the deadline. Your application must actually arrive by this time; simply being postmarked by the deadline is insufficient.
- When you get your ballot in the mail:
- Carefully read and follow the instructions.
- Sign and date where indicated.
- Mail your voted ballot back to the address on the return envelope.
- Your voted ballot must arrive by the deadline or it will not be counted.
- The Texas Democratic Party has a web site containing educational videos regarding Vote-By-Mail, with instructions in English and en Espanol: https://www.texasdemocrats.org/my-texas-votes-2/vote-by-mail/
SECTION H: How Can I Vote Early and Avoid the Crowds?
- We already talked about Vote by Mail (Absentee Ballots). See SECTION G (above).
- Early Voting is when some or all the polling places start accepting votes days or weeks before the official Election Day. Every County manages these differently, but check your local county website, newspapers, and radio / TV stations.
- Typically, early voting offers no lines, a quick in-and-out visit, and so are popular with those that have a schedule flexible enough to take advantage of them.
SECTION I: How Do I Know Who to Vote For?
- Many of us only know what our parents have said about politics, but as adults we have the responsibility to be informed citizens. So sure, consider what the parents said, but we must think for ourselves. Our country depends on every generation taking on that responsibility.
- Some time-tested sources of accurate information exist:
- Rock The Vote (https://www.rockthevote.org/how-to-vote/texas/): A non-profit, progressive-aligned group in the United States whose stated mission is “to engage and build the political power of young people.”
- Crowdpac (https://www.crowdpac.com/): A nonpartisan, for-profit website whose purpose is to help political outsiders raise money and run for office. The website uses an algorithm built by researchers at Stanford University to track political candidates’ sources of funding to predict how ideologically partisan they are.
- Vote Smart (https://justfacts.votesmart.org/): A non-profit, non-partisan research organization that collects and distributes information on candidates for public office in the United States. It covers candidates and elected officials in six basic areas: background information, issue positions, voting records, campaign finances, interest group ratings, and speeches and public statements.
- The League of Women Voters (https://www.lwv.org/): An American civic organization that was formed to help women take a larger role in public affairs as they won the right to vote. It was founded in 1920 to support the new women suffrage rights. Once only for women, LWV began admitting men in the 1970’s. Officially non-partisan, but generally favors progressive social causes.
- So now it’s time to execute all the above: Register, Learn, and Vote. Or we’ll be trampled by the generation that does.
- Other Links:
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