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Texas withholds details of $2.5M voter ID education effort - Federal judge seals records at state's request
08/27/16 |
Publication Date: 
Saturday, August 27, 2016 - 03:45
Excerpt: 

More than half of that [$2.5 million] taxpayer money will go toward an advertising campaign, according to court filings. Yet state officials will not say which markets they intend to target with television and radio spots.

As part of its outreach effort, the state will send "digital tool kits" to an estimated 1,800 organizations across Texas to engage local communities on voter education. State officials will not identify those groups. ...

Key to understanding the state's strategy is where and how it plans to distribute voter education materials, including what parts of the state will be the focus, said Brandon Rottinghaus, an associate professor of political science at the University of Houston who specializes in media and public opinion.

Without detailed information showing where the state plans to buy ads, he said, it becomes difficult to know whether regions with a higher density of people likely to be confused by the voter ID requirements are being targeted.

"Blanketing the state with ads about how easy it is to vote and how several new forms of ID can be used at the polls is not helpful," he said, adding that areas such as the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso will require large amounts of advertising. "The real value is the targeted selection of significant markets that are affected."

Wisconsin Gets To Enforce Restrictive Voter ID Law, With One Big Twist
08/27/16 |
Publication Date: 
Saturday, August 27, 2016 - 00:00
Excerpt: 

A federal appeals...court accepted assurances from the state of Wisconsin that its Division of Motor Vehicles would “mail automatically a free photo ID to anyone who comes to DMV one time and initiates the free ID process.” ...

The 7th Circuit stressed that mere “initiation” of this process ― showing up at the DMV, regardless of what documentation the prospective voter has ― was enough for a voter to receive a voting credential at no cost.

But this also presupposes that affected voters, especially those of lesser means or without transportation, actually can make it to a DMV location [when it's open]. Or that the state will actually keep voters informed that this mechanism even exists.

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Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

Texas Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

  • Voter Registration Deadline: October 9
  • Early Voting Dates: October 22 - November 4

For more information, visit the Texas Secretary of State website.

Please note that the information in the sections below has not been updated, and refers to the 2015 general election.

  • Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.
  • In-Person Early Voting Period: begins the 17th day before Election Day (if that’s a weekend, early voting starts on Monday) and ends the 4th day before election day. (EXCEPTION: Early voting for elections held in May starts the 12th day before Election Day and ends on the 4th day before Election Day.)
  • Polls are open at various times during early voting.

Contact your local County Voter Registration Officials for information specific to your county.  For contact information, excluding website, click here.  For a listing of County websites click here.

Applying for Ballot by Mail Period: Regular ballot by mail applications must be received by the early voting clerk not earlier than the 60th day and not later than the 9th day before election day. If the 9th day is a weekend or holiday, the deadline is the first preceding business day.

  • Applications for ballots by mail must be received, not merely postmarked, by the deadline.

How to Find Your Polling Place

You can find your precinct voting location by using Texas’ search site Am I Registered?, which will be populated with voting sites well before Election Day.  Or, you may want to contact your local County Voter Registration Officials.  Also, many newspapers publish Election Day polling locations.

Or, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).

REGISTER TO VOTE HERE

Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.


Registration Deadlines

You must register 30 days before the election.

How to Check Your Registration Status

Visit Texas’ Secretary of State’s website to check your registration status.

Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).

Eligibility Requirements to Register

You are eligible to register to vote if:

  • You are a United States citizen;
  • You are a resident of the county where you submit the application;
  • You are at least 18 years old on Election Day (and at least 17 years and 10 months of age on the date you apply);
  • You are not a convicted felon (you may be eligible to vote if you have completed your sentence, probation, and parole); and
  • You have not been declared by a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be either totally mentally incapacitated or partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote.

Identification Required for Registration

All voters who register to vote in Texas must provide a Texas driver’s license number or personal identification number issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.  If you don’t have such a number, simply provide the last four digits of your social security number.

If you do not provide a driver’s license or social security number when registering to vote (or lack both), you must submit proof of identification when presenting yourself for voting (when voting in person) or with your mail-in ballots (if voting by mail).  Acceptable identification includes:

  • 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 concealed handgun license issued by DPS;
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph;
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph; and
  • United States passport.
Voters who are subject to this requirement who do not present the required identification must be permitted to cast a provisional ballot.

How to Register

Online

There is no online voter registration in Texas.

In person

You can register in person at your county Voter Registrar’s office.  (In most Texas counties, the Tax Assessor-Collector is also the Voter Registrar.  In some counties, the County Clerk or Elections Administrator registers voters.)

By mail

An application to register to vote 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.

Or you can register by mail by obtaining an application from your county Voter Registrar’s office or the Secretary of State’s office.  You can also pick up applications at libraries, government offices, high schools and many post offices.

You may also fill out a voter registration application online, print it and mail it to the voter registrar in your county of residence.  You are not registered until you have filled out the online application, printed it, and mailed it to your local County Voter Registrar.

After a Name Change

If you have changed your name, promptly notify your county Voter Registrar in writing of the change.  There are several ways to do this:

  • Correct your current voter registration certificate on the back and return it to the Voter Registrar;
  • Fill out a new voter registration application form and check the “change” box;
  • When you apply for or change your Texas driver’s license, change your voter information at the same time; or
  • As long as you reside in the same county, you can change your information online at the Secretary of State’s Voter Registration Name/Address Change website.  The screen will prompt you through the process, and the changes you make will be forwarded to your county Voter Registrar for processing.

If You Want to Vote Early 

Generally, early voting in person begins the 17th day before Election Day (if that’s a weekend, early voting starts on Monday) and ends the 4th day before Election Day.  (EXCEPTION: Early voting for elections held in May starts the 12th day before Election Day and ends on the 4th day before Election Day.)  Vote at a location in your political subdivision that’s close to where you live or work.

Contact your local County Voter Registration Officials for information specific to your county.  For contact information, excluding website, click here.  For a listing of County websites click here. All other voting rules and procedures apply – e.g., eligibility, identification, polling hours.

If You Want to Vote Absentee

Absentee voting consists of voting early by mail. You may vote early by mail if:

  • You will be away from your county on Election Day and during early voting;
  • You are sick or disabled;
  • You are 65 years of age or older on Election Day; or
  • You are confined in jail, but eligible to vote.

You can get a formal application for a ballot by mail from:

If you are voting early because of expected absence, you may apply in person for a ballot by mail before the early “voting in person” period begins (usually the 17th day before the election).

If you are voting by mail because you are disabled or are 65 years of age or older, you may use a single application to request ballots by mail for all county elections in the calendar year.  To do so, simply mark “Annual Application” on your application for a ballot by mail when selecting the election for which you are applying.

You can write your own application for a ballot by mail, as long as it contains:

  • Your signature, or a witness’ signature if you cannot sign;
  • Your name and the address at which you are registered to vote;
  • The address to which the ballot is to be mailed;
  • The election date and the election for which you are requesting a ballot (for a primary election, you must state the political party’s primary in which you want to vote); and
  • A reason why you are eligible to vote early by mail.  To be eligible to vote early because you expect to be out of the county, your application must state the out-of-county address where you want your ballot mailed.

Your ballot by mail application must be sent to the Early Voting Clerk in the county where you are registered to vote. Regular ballot by mail applications must be received by the early voting clerk not earlier than the 60th day and not later than the 9th day before election day. If the 9th day is a weekend or holiday, the deadline is the first preceding business day.

Applications must be received (not postmarked) by last day of the application period.  All applications to vote by mail must be received by the early voting clerk before the close of regular business or 12 noon, whichever is later.

You may send in your application for a ballot by mail by:

  • Regular mail;
  • Common or contract carrier; or
  • Fax (if a fax machine is available to the Early Voting Clerk).

The Early Voting Clerk must receive your marked ballot by 7 p.m. on Election Day or by the 5th day after Election Day if your ballot is submitted from outside the United States.

Identification Requirements to Register to Vote

All voters who register to vote in Texas must provide a Texas driver’s license number or personal identification number issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.  If you don’t have such a number, simply provide the last four digits of your social security number. 

If you do not provide a driver’s license or social security number when registering to vote (or lack both), you must submit proof of identification when presenting yourself for voting (when voting in person) or with your mail-in ballots (if voting by mail). Acceptable identification includes:

  • 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 concealed handgun license issued by DPS;
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph;
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph; and
  • United States passport.

Voters who are subject to this requirement who do not present the required identification must be permitted to cast a provisional ballot.


Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

Note: Qualified voters without an approved photo ID may obtain a free Election Identification Card from the Texas Department of Public Safety. For more information, visit the DPS website.

Voters are required to present an approved form of photo identification in order to vote in all Texas Elections unless you are exempt (see “Exemptions” below). Approved forms of photo ID are:

  • Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS);
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS;
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph;
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph; and
  • United States passport or
  • Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
  • An ELECTION IDENTIFICATION CERTIFICATE (EIC)- which can be obtained at any of the State’s Driver’s License offices free of charge.

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the identification must be current or have expired no more than 60 days before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place.

The address on a voter’s ID does not need to match the address on the list of registered voters.

Exemptions

Disability

A disabled voter may be permitted to present a voter registration certificate on Election Day in lieu of one of the acceptable forms of identification listed above. A disabled voter may do so only if his or her registration application included:

  • Written documentation from the Social Security Administration or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs evidencing the disability; and
  • A statement from the Texas Secretary of State indicating that the voter does not have an acceptable form of identification.

Voting By Mail

  • If you are voting by mail, you do not have to submit a photo ID

If a voter does not have identification on Election Day, she or he may vote a provisional ballot. To receive a provisional ballot on Election Day, the voter must sign an affidavit stating that she or he is a registered voter in the precinct and is eligible to vote in the election.

However, the voter’s provisional ballot will only be counted if the voter appears before the local Voter Registrar within six calendar days of the election to present one of the acceptable forms of identification listed above. If a voter cannot provide an acceptable form of identification to the Voter Registrar, the provisional ballot will only be counted if the voter signs an affidavit claiming a religious or natural disaster exception.

Moving Within the Same County

If you moved from one place to another in the same county, you’ll need to notify the Voter Registrar in your county in writing of your new address.  (In most Texas counties, the Tax Assessor-Collector is also the Voter Registrar.  In some counties, the County Clerk or Elections Administrator registers voters.)  There are several ways to do this:

  • Correct your current voter registration certificate on the back and return it to the Voter Registrar;
  • Fill out a new voter registration application form and check the “change” box; or
  • When you apply for or change your Texas driver’s license, change your voter information at the same time.

As long as you reside in the same county, you can change your information online at the Secretary of State’s Voter Registration Name/Address Change website.  The screen will prompt you through the process and the changes that you make will be forwarded to your county Voter Registrar for processing.  You will be mailed a new certificate with your new address and be able to vote in your new precinct 30 days after you submitted your change.  If you miss the 30-day deadline to change information on your voter registration certificate, you may vote in your former precinct as long as you still reside in the political subdivision conducting the election.

Moving to Another County

If you moved to another county, YOU MUST RE-REGISTER!  Fill out and mail a new application, or take it in person, to the Voter Registrar of your new county.  (In most Texas counties, the Tax Assessor-Collector is also the Voter Registrar. In some counties, the County Clerk or Elections Administrator registers voters.)  You will receive a new voter registration certificate 30 days after your application is submitted and accepted.

If you are late to register in your new county, you may be able to vote a “limited” ballot on candidates or issues common between your old and new counties.  You may only vote this “limited” ballot after you have moved to your new residence, during the early voting period by mail or personal appearance (not on Election Day) and if:

  • You are a current registered voter in your former county;
  • You would be eligible to vote in your former county on Election Day, if you were still living in that county; and
  • You have not re-registered in the new county, or, if you have re-registered, the effective date of the new registration will not be effective on or before Election day.

If you have not updated your registration within 30 days of the election, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).

Military and overseas voters are welcome to use the regular registration and early voting by mail process (also known as absentee voting) available to all voters away from their home county on Election Day.  However, there are also special provisions for military and overseas voters.

The process is as easy as ABC:

A. (Application) Fill out and file your FPCA (Federal Postcard Application) as soon as possible but no later than a week before Election Day.

B. (Ballot) Receive your ballot or use the FWAB (Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot).

C. (Casting and Counting) Cast your vote by returning your marked ballot by Election Day, or the 5th day after if voting from overseas.  Track the progress of your FPCA and ballot here.

Application

Who can use the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) and why?

  • Active duty military, spouses, and dependents (voting from outside the home Texas county), and
  • U. S. Citizens (nonmilitary) temporarily overseas* away from the home Texas county.

U. S. Citizens (nonmilitary) permanently overseas *away from the (previous) home Texas county*:  Federal law defines “overseas” as anywhere outside the United States.  If you are not one of these voters, you need the regular early voting by mail procedures.  What and where is the FPCA form? Here are two resources for obtaining an automated FPCA form:

What does the FPCA form do?

  • Registers you onto the permanent voter rolls 30 days after receipt by the county (unless the voter marks indefinitely away / do not intend to return);
  • Functions as an application for ballot by mail and gives you temporary registration status for certain offices; and
  • If voter marks indefinitely away (older form) / do not intend to return (newer form), voter receives federal ballot only.

When is the FPCA deadline?

  • General rule:  deadline is the 7th day before Election Day (earlier is recommended).
  • Here are the deadlines calculated for upcoming elections in 2014.

Where do you send the FPCA?

How may you send the (completed signed) FPCA to the clerk?

  • Hard copy by mail;
  • Common or contract carrier;
  • Fax (if the Early Voting Clerk’s office has a fax machine); or
  • E-mail (scanned image of signed form).

Ballot

You receive the ballot from the clerk by an authorized method the voter requested on the FPCA, including:

  • Hard copy by mail (default method if nothing else requested);
  • E-mail (unmarked ballot) (if election includes federal offices);
  • Common or contract carrier (if paid for by voter); and
  • Unmarked ballots may not be faxed under Texas law, regardless of voter’s status.

To check and see if the county or other election official sent your ballot, track your ballot here.

Casting and Counting

How do you return the ballot to the Early Voting Clerk?

  • Hard copy by mail, or common or contract courier (like any other ballot by mail), or
  • If from military voter (or spouse or dependent) in hostile fire pay / imminent danger pay / combat zone, may be faxed using authorized channels.

Marked ballots may not be e-mailed under Texas law, regardless of voter’s status.

When is the deadline for returning the ballot?

  • Regular deadline: receipt by 7:00 p.m. Election Day.
  • Deadline for voters voting from overseas location: receipt by 5th day after Election Day.

To check and see if the county or other election official sent your ballot, track your ballot here.

Military and overseas citizens can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) if they are concerned with receiving their printed ballot and returning it by the 7:00 p.m., Election Day deadline.  The FWAB is a blank ballot on which voters write-in their choices.  The FWAB may also be used  to register to vote and to apply for the absentee ballot, all in one step.  If the FWAB is being used to register to vote, it must be received by the voter registration deadline.  For specific instructions, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's Texas page to download the form.

If you are finally convicted of a felony you are not eligible to vote while serving the sentence. However, you are eligible to vote if you 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.

For more information, visit the Texas Secretary of State website.

If you are finally convicted of a felony you are not eligible to vote while serving the sentence.  However, you are eligible to vote if you 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.

For more information, visit the Texas Secretary of State website.

FAQ

Top Issues to Field ** not yet updated since 2014**

For more information for voters with disabilities, visit the National Disability Rights Network’s voting resource center.

For more information for student voters, visit the Texas Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

2016 Election Information for your state