Here's Everything You Need To Know About Election Day In Texas | KERA News

Here's Everything You Need To Know About Election Day In Texas

Nov 7, 2016

Election Day is almost here. If you weren’t one of the millions of Texans who voted early (more than 4 million voted in the state's 15 largest counties), Tuesday is your last opportunity to participate.

To make the experience as smooth as possible, we’ve answered the questions you might have before you cast your ballot.

This election, Texas had to scale back its voter identification requirements, so we have listed everything you can bring and what to do if you don’t have a photo ID.

Also, you’ve likely heard reports of issues at the polls — we have resources to help you navigate a situation, if problems come up.

Finally, unlike early voting, you have to go to a polling place in your precinct, unless you live in Collin County. We have a map of polling places in Dallas, Denton, Tarrant, Collin, Ellis and Rockwall counties. 

Run through the following items until you’re ready to head to the polls, which are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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Am I eligible to vote?

To be eligible to vote you must be a U.S. citizen, 18 years old by Election Day and living in the county that matches your registration. Also, you must not be currently serving a sentence or parole for a felony conviction. Read more from the Texas Secretary of State's office on voting.

Am I registered to vote?

The last day to register to vote in Texas was Oct. 11. If you think you might be registered, check here. You can confirm if you’re registered by searching with three pieces of identification:

  1. Your Voter Unique Identifier (VUID) that appears on your voter registration certificate.
  2. Your Texas driver’s license number, if you provided it when you applied for voter registration.
  3. Your first and last name. Or you can call your local voter registrar’s office.

What voter identification can I bring?

The following are acceptable forms of identification to bring when casting your ballot:

  • Texas driver's 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 license to carry a handgun 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

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the ID must be either current or expired up to four years.

If you can't present one of those seven forms of photo ID, you can sign a declaration at the polls explaining why you can't obtain of the approved forms and provide one of the following forms of supporting documentation:

  • A certified birth certificate (must be original)
  • A valid voter registration certificate
  • A copy or original of one of the following: current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck or other government document that shows the voter’s name and an address.

Government documents which include a photo must be original and cannot be copies.

Where’s my precinct?

Use the login field on the same page you used to confirm your registration to find your precinct. If you are registered, all of your voter information will show up. Also, Google is making it easy to find where to vote, too — just search for "Where do I vote?"

Where can I cast my ballot?

Vote at the polling location that matches your precinct. If you live in Collin County, you should go to the polling place closest to your house. Several precincts are combined into voting centers. Type in your address here, and you’ll know where to go vote.

How long are the polls open?

All polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

What’s the deal with poll watchers?

Poll watching happens in Texas. There are appointed people who may monitor voters casting their ballots or officials counting them. Poll watchers must follow several rules, outlined in the Texas poll watchers guide. An example: State law prohibits poll watchers — or any voter — from wearing a badge, insignia or emblem related to a candidate, measure or party on the ballot within 100 feet of a polling place’s door. Read more rules explained by the Texas Tribune.

Also, an authorized poll watcher should be wearing a nametag or something that visually distinguishes them.

What about people trying to intimidate me when I vote?

Bruce Sherbet, the Collin County election administrator, told KERA that they didn’t have any issues with intimidation at the polls during early voting. But if a situation were to escalate inside a polling place, voters can notify an election judge. The election judge rules on any challenge inside a polling place with the same authority as a district judge within the boundaries of that polling place, Sherbet says.

Can I change my vote?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: There are seven states that allow someone who voted early to change his/her vote: Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In most of those states, a person having second thoughts would have to show up on Election Day to a polling location to re-vote in person and that ballot would nullify their previous one. Learn more.

If I have questions or problems at the polls, what do I do?

First, you can talk directly with the election judge present at the polling site. There should be complaint numbers posted at the location, too. You can also call the Secretary of State for Texas at (800) 252-VOTE. Be sure to review your rights as a voter, including voters with disabilities.  

You can get involved in Election Day by texting TXDECIDES to 69866. KERA will check in to find out how long it took you to vote and whether you had or saw any problems. You can also tweet about voting issues you see with the hashtag #TXdecides.

So can I take a selfie at the polls?

Taking a selfie with your ballot (when voting in person) is illegal. In Texas, photography within 100 feet of polling stations is prohibited, the Associated Press reports. Photos of mail-in ballots are OK. Texas banned cameras and recording equipment long before the smartphone selfie culture boomed — actually just a few months after the first iPhone came out in 2007.

In short, don’t be like Justin Timberlake.

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How can I keep up with election results?

We’ll have local and national coverage throughout the night on air and online. KERA reporters will be at different locations throughout North Texas providing updates — tune into KERA 90.1 FM for the latest, starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Follow online for:

  • A live blog with the latest on national, statewide and local races.
  • Elections results and an interactive map from the Texas Tribune.
  • Live video updates through the night from KERA’s Facebook.
  • Reaction from Texans on Twitter, using the hashtag #TXdecides.

Last but not least, here’s our Elections 2016 page where you’ll find all of our coverage leading up to Election Day. 

Here are a few North Texas races we're watching:

Tight Texas House races in Dallas County

There are few competitive state legislative races, and they all happen to be in Dallas County. Democrats are looking to Dallas for state House wins. Read the story from KERA's Chris Connelly.

Arlington stadium vote

Arlington voters are split on whether to pay $500 million (50 percent) for a new stadium for the Texas Rangers with city funds. The "yes" campaign doesn't want to potentially lose the Rangers to another city, but those against the proposition say it's a bad deal and voting "no" could allow time for a better one. Read the story from KERA's Chris Connelly.   

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD tax ratification

Voters will decide whether to raise the overall tax rate by 11 cents to generate more money for the school district. If voters approve the measure, the school district would receive $17 million a year. Opponents say the district doesn't need more money at a time when student enrollment is going down. Read the story from KERA's Stella M. Chávez