The past nine months have been marked by extreme challenges — wildfires, hurricanes, a global pandemic and nationwide social unrest — and the November elections will be pivotal to how this year ends.
In Texas, deadlines to register to vote, update mailing addresses, confirm eligibility and registration status and request an absentee ballot are all one month prior to the Nov. 3 general election. With mail delays possible, voter registrars are encouraging eligible voters to not wait and start the process now.
Are you registered to vote?
Outside Texas, check voter registration status at Vote.gov and confirm specific state deadlines and guidelines, since each state may be different.
For first-time Texas voters, Oct. 5 is the deadline to fill out and return the voter registration application. The Brazos Elections administrator cautioned not to delay until the Oct. 5 postmark deadline.
“You can either go to BrazosVotes.org or VoteTexas.gov and fill out an application there,” Trudy Hancock, Brazos Valley Elections Administrator, said. While the form can be completed online, the next step is to print the application and mail the forms directly to the election office in the county where the person wants to vote, Hancock said.
“We have to have what the state calls a ‘wet signature,’ which is an original signature, and so we have to have that piece of paper regardless,” Hancock explained.
Registration also can be completed in person at a local post office, library, voter registrar’s office, a voter registration drive, or by mail. Hancock encouraged residents to keep a receipt of their registration, often a yellow sheet, even if registering in-person.
Who can request an absentee ballot?
Requesting an absentee ballot in Texas is restricted to eligible voters who meet the following requirements:
- 65 years or older
- be disabled
- be out of county during early voting and on Election Day
- be confined in jail but otherwise eligible
There is current litigation to clarify how risk of contracting COVID-19 affects eligibility to vote by mail in Texas. COVID-19 can be acceptable criteria for requesting a ballot, although the individual must be impacted during both early voting and on Election Day, Hancock said.
Vote early or vote on Election Day
Texas early voting runs from Oct. 13 through Oct. 30. Dates and hours vary by county, so visit VoteTexas.gov.
Texas residents who reside in Brazos County but are registered in another county may vote using a limited ballot that only includes items common to Brazos County and the registered county, Hancock said.
“The only caveat to that is that it moves your registration to Brazos County, and you can only do it during early voting at the main early voting location, which would be in Downtown Bryan at the Brazos County Administration Building,” Hancock said.
Brazos County poll locations for early voting and Nov. 3 Election Day are different, including poll locations on the Texas A&M campus. Confirm locations and times at BrazosVotes.org.
This story is a collaboration between The Battalion and upperclassmen in Texas A&M's journalism degree. To see the online copy of the "All Things Voting" print edition, click here.