With just about a week to go until Election Day, Texas is already seeing record-shattering voter turnout, with millions of Texans heading to the polls.
With this historic turnout, along with new procedures to protect you from COVID-19, voting in person in Texas may look a little different than it has in the past. Whether you’re a first-time voter or have voted many times before, you should be sure you know what to expect as you head to the polls.
Once you’ve found your polling location and made a plan to join the millions of Texans who are making their voices heard in this election, remember these 5 important things as you head to the polls:
- ID requirement: Texas law requires that you have a valid ID to vote, so be sure to bring yours if you have one. However, even if you do not have one of the accepted forms of ID, you can still cast a ballot by filling out and signing a "reasonable impediment declaration" at the polling location. Just let the poll workers know and they will help you through the process.
- 100-foot boundary: Actively campaigning or trying to influence individuals’ votes – also known as “electioneering” – is prohibited within 100 feet of the polling stations. There will be signs clearly marking the 100-foot point. Not only does that mean that people can’t talk to you about candidates or try to hand you campaign materials inside that marker, it also means you may not wear any clothing or items with the names of candidates, including masks.
- Phones off: Taking a selfie with your ballot might seem like a fun way to let your friends know you’ve voted and encourage them to do the same, but it is actually against the law in many states, including Texas. Besides electioneering, the use of cell phones or other wireless communications devices is also prohibited within 100 feet of the voting stations. This includes taking photos or videos. Keep phones turned off and in your pockets once you are inside the 100-foot boundary, and hold off on the voting selfie until you’ve gotten your “I Voted” sticker and left the 100-foot zone.
- Stay in line: Record-breaking turnout is exciting, because it means more Texans are making their voices heard and participating in our democracy; but it can also mean long lines at some voting locations. Remember that if you are in line at the time that the polls close, stay in line. Any person who is already in line to vote at the time that the polls close will be allowed to vote. This is true for both early voting and Election Day. You have a right to vote; be sure to exercise it.
- Know who to call: If you see or experience problems at the polls, contact the Texas Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE. Trained experts, including legal experts from the ACLU of Texas and other groups, are ready to answer calls and help with everything from concerns about ballots, to electioneering, to problems with IDs, to any other efforts to hinder you from exercising your right to vote. (Also, if you’re interested in becoming a poll monitor and helping with Election Protection, you can sign up for a training).
For more details about what to expect when you go to the polls, be sure to check out Let Texans Vote.