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Federal appeals court: Right to vote constitutionally protected - legal reasoning behind its decision earlier this month that allowed thousands of Kansas residents to register to vote
10/20/16 |
Publication Date: 
Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 06:00

A federal appeals court laid out on Wednesday the legal reasoning behind its decision earlier this month that allowed thousands of Kansas residents to register to vote without providing documents proving their U.S. citizenship.

The 85-page opinion from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals came a day after voter registration closed in Kansas for the November election. The appeals court had earlier this month upheld a preliminary injunction that forced Kansas to register people who filled out voter applications at motor vehicle offices.

“There can be no dispute that the right to vote is a constitutionally protected fundamental right,” the appeals court wrote.

Poll: Texans remain confused by Voter ID law
10/20/16 |
Publication Date: 
Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 05:00

Texas' 5-year-old voter ID law, the subject of both a protracted court challenge and a $2.5 million state-paid public education effort, still appears to be causing confusion for voters as the 2016 election campaign steams toward the finish line.

A University of Houston poll of 1,000 registered voters who said they were either certain or very likely to cast ballots in the Nov. 8 elections found that more than half of the respondents remain uncertain of the status of the voter-identification requirements. ...

The poll, released Monday, showed that confusion about voter ID cut across all demographic lines, but a greater percentage respondents who were African-American, Asian or Hispanic than were Anglo answered that a government-approved photo ID was required at the polls. Among Anglos, 58 percent said either that a photo ID was not necessary or that they did not know.

Only 41 percent of Asian respondents, 50 percent of Hispanic respondents and 52 percent of African-American respondents said either no photo ID was required or that they were unsure.

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Texas Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 General Election: November 8, 2016

Voter Registration Deadline: Tuesday, October 11, 2016, received.

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

Election Day:

Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Central Time on Election Day.

Texas has early voting in person and by mail.  Early voting begins on October 24, 2016 and ends on November 4, 2016.  Any eligible voter may vote early in person. 

All voters are eligible to vote early in person. Voters who wish to vote early by mail (“absentee”) may do so if the voter won’t be able to vote in person on Election Day or during early voting, has a sickness or physical condition preventing the voter from appearing in person, is 65 years or older on Election Day, or is incarcerated (not for felony) at the time the voter applies for early voting by mail.  A voter seeking to vote early/absentee by mail must apply by October 28, 2016.  The voter’s ballot must be received by 7:00 p.m. Central Time on Election Day.

How to Find Your Polling Place: Visit the Texas Secretary of State’s polling place locator web page. 


Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.

Registration Deadlines: You must register 30 days before Election Day.  The deadline for the 2016 Presidential Election is Tuesday, October 11, received.

Texas does not have same-day registration.

How to Check Your Registration: Use Texas' Registrant Search website or call 866-OUR-VOTE.

Registration Eligibility: In order to be eligible to register in Texas, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States;
  • Be a resident of Texas;
  • Be at least 17 years and 10 months old at the time of registration;
  • Not have a final conviction for a felony;
  • Not have a final declaration of mental incapacity.

How to Register: Texas residents may register in person, by mail, or by facsimile. 

By Mail

In order to register by mail, you must obtain a registration application form by:

  • Downloading a mail-in form from the Texas Secretary of State's informal online application;
  • Downloading the national voter registration form;
  • Requesting a form from your Voter Registrar’s Office;
  • Picking up an application from libraries, government offices, post offices, Texas Department of Public Safety offices, universities, or high schools;
  • Requesting a postage-paid application to be sent to you by mail from the Texas Secretary of State's registration form request website; or
  • If you are an eligible Texas high school student (in either public or private school), high school principals (or their designees) are required by law to distribute voter registration forms to students on a semi-annual basis. These applications may be collected by the principal or delivered by the student, by mail or in person, to the county Voter Registrar’s Office. If your high school is not distributing voter registration forms, call the Texas Secretary of State’s office at (800) 252-VOTE.

You must mail the completed and signed registration application to your county Voter Registrar’s Office.

In Person

You may register to vote in person by filling out or delivering a completed and signed application at your county Voter Registrar’s Office.

Identification Required for Registration:

Voters should provide a Texas driver’s license number or a personal identification number when registering. If the voter does not have one, the voter must provide the last four digits of his or her social security number or state that he or she does not have a social security number.  Voters who do not provide either a driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number on the application must provide a form of identification at the polls on Election Day. 

If You Want to Vote Early/Absentee

Early voting, also called “absentee voting” in Texas, can be done either in person or by mail.

If You Want to Vote Early/Absentee In Person

Any voter is eligible for early voting in person. For the 2016 Presidential Election, early voting begins on October 24, 2016 and ends on November 4, 2016. A voter can find his or her early voting locations by checking the Texas Secretary of State's website or by contacting the Early Voting Clerk in the voter's county. Polling hours vary for each early voting location.

If You Want to Vote Early/Absentee By Mail

A voter may cast an early/absentee ballot if he or she:

  • Expects to be absent from the county on Election Day or during early voting period;
  • Has a sickness or physical condition that will prevent the voter from appearing in person;
  • Is 65 years or older on Election Day; or
  • Is incarcerated (not for a felony) at the time the early voting application is submitted.

A voter wanting to vote early by mail must submit an application to the Early Voting Clerk by mail, carrier, fax, or email no later than October 28, 2016, received. The official application for early voting by mail is available at the Texas Secretary of State's website.

Ballot Deadlines:

  • A ballot voted by mail must be received by the Early Voting Clerk by 7:00 p.m. Central Time on Election Day (unless the voter is out of the country). 

If the voter is voting from outside of the country, the ballot must be received by the Early Voting Clerk by the 5th day after Election Day (if a weekend, the next business day).  For the 2016 General Election, this is Monday, November 14. 

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

If a voter has a valid photo identification, he/she must present it at the polling place in order to vote.

Acceptable forms of photo ID include:

  • Driver’s License issued by Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS);
  • Personal Identification Card issued by DPS;
  • Election Identification Certificate (can apply at no-cost at the Department of Public Safety);
  • US Military Identification Card with photo;
  • US Citizenship Certificate with photo;
  • US Passport;
  • License to Carry or Concealed Handgun License.

Forms of photo ID must not be expired or must have expired no more than four years prior to election.

However, if the voter has a reasonable difficulty in obtaining one of the photo IDs listed above, he/she can present alternative documentation (such as a voter registration certificate, utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, or any government document with the voter’s name and address) and sign a document stating that he/she has a reasonable difficulty in obtaining photo ID. If the voter presents alternative documentation and signs the reasonable difficulty document, he/she must be given a regular (not provisional) ballot.

While election officials may ask the voter if he/she has an accepted photo ID, election officials cannot question or challenge voters concerning the voter’s lack of that ID. The reasonableness of a voter’s difficulty in obtaining photo ID cannot be questioned by election officials.

Note: The address on either the photo ID or the alternative documentation does not need to match the address on the voter registration list. 

VoteRiders has created Texas voter ID info cards in English and in Spanish.

Moving within the Same County

Voters should update their registration address on the Texas Secretary of State Voter Registrar website by October 11, 2016. 

If the voter has not updated their address, the voter may still cast a regular ballot under the following circumstances:

  • The voter has moved within the same precinct and is voting at the precinct associated with the voters’ old or new address (it will be the same for both); or
  • The voter mas moved to a different precinct in the same county, is voting at the precinct associated with the voter’s old address, and submits a “statement of residence” to the election officer.

Moving Between Counties

If the voter has moved to a different county, the voter must reregister to vote in his or her new county.  If the voter has not registered in his or new county by October 11, the voter cannot cast a vote on Election Day. There is a Limited Ballot Option offered during the early voting period only. During early voting, the voter will be able to cast a limited ballot in his or new county, but can only vote on the candidates and measures that are common between the voter’s old and new county.

Absent uniformed service members (and their eligible dependents) and U.S. citizens living outside of the United States may request an absentee ballot under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). For members of the U.S. armed forces, their spouses, and their qualified dependents, the Secretary of State shall provide them with a means of casing their vote via fax or other electronic means.

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot. The application is available here.  The application should be submitted by October 11. 

UOCAVA voters may also get step-by-step assistance and forms at FVAP's website or Texas Secretary of State's military or overseas voters page.

Receiving an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters may receive their blank absentee ballots by mail or electronic transmission. The ballot should be sent by mail to the Early Voting Clerk and received by 7:00 pm Central Time on Election Day.  If the voter is a military voter in a combat zone, the voter may fax the ballot using authorized channels

You can track the progress of your FPCA ballot here.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a back-up ballot that can be used by UOCAVA voters.  You can use this FWAB whether you are located inside or outside the United States (including APO and FPO addresses), provided that you are away from your voting residence for service-related activities.  You must apply for a regular ballot early enough for your local election officials to receive the request at least 5 days before the election.  If you do not receive your regular ballot in time, you may use the FWAB.  Your FWAB must be received by your local voting officials in Alabama no later than noon on Election Day.  For specific instructions, visit the FVAP's Texas-specific FWAB page.

A person who has been convicted of a felony cannot vote in Texas unless the person has fully discharged his or sentence (i.e. has completed parole and probation) or has been pardoned. 


Top Issues to Field

For more information for voters with disabilities, find a National Disability Rights Network partner in your area.

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

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

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

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2016 Election Information for your state