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Voting in Texas: What you need to know

Early voting has now started in Texas. Here's how to vote. | Renee Josse de Lisle/The Cougar

Early voting has now started in Texas. Here’s how to vote. | Renee Josse de Lisle/The Cougar

Polling locations across Texas opened for operation Tuesday morning, kicking off in-person early voting for the 2020 election. Registered voters will have until Oct. 30 to vote early as well as the option to cast their ballot on the Nov. 3 Election Day.

Usually open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Harris County polls, including the UH campus voting location, offer varied hours that can differ depending on the day. To avoid potentially long lines at the polls, voters can check wait times for specific locations using an interactive map on the Harris County clerk’s website. 

Unsure if you’re registered to vote? The deadline has passed for 2020 voter registration, but you can check your status with the Texas secretary of state.  

Here’s a breakdown of early voting information and requirements for Harris County:

Where can I vote? 

Harris County has 122 polling locations open for early voting, with 10 offering a drive-thru option and seven remaining open for 24 hours on Oct. 29. 

Harris County gives voters the option to vote at any one of the county-wide polling locations rather than requiring them to vote at a specific precinct. Any registered Harris County voter can cast their ballot early at the UH polling location found in the Student Center South on the second floor. 

Students and visitors who choose to vote on campus can park in UH visitor lots free of charge and will receive a parking voucher after they cast their ballot. 

What do I need to bring to the poll? 

Voters must present a form of identification acceptable under the 2011 voter identification law to vote in person in Texas. The legislation mandates that all voters must provide one of seven accepted forms of identification when casting their ballot at a poll. 

Voters have the option to present identification issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety including a Texas driver’s license, Texas personal identification card, Texas Election identification Certificate or a Texas handgun license.

Voters can also present a form of photo identification such as a United States military identification card, United States Citizenship Certificate or United States passport. 

 Don’t have or can’t obtain one of these forms of identification? Certain voters may qualify for a Reasonable Impediment Declaration and can provide alternative supporting identification such as a certified domestic birth certificate or government check.

Find a full list here.  

What about mail-in voting? 

Despite ongoing citizen concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and potential for viral spread at the polls, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that COVID-19-related anxieties are not sufficient qualification for a mail-in ballot. 

To be eligible to submit a mail-in ballot in Texas, a voter must have a disability or illness, be over the age of 65, be confined to jail (but still eligible to vote) or reside outside of the county they registered to vote in. 

Sealed in an official envelope, completed mail-in ballots must be sent back to the Harris County Clerk’s office and received by the voting clerk by 7 p.m. on Election Day for non-postmarked ballots or by 5 p.m. on the business day after Election Day for postmarked ballots. 

Voters can submit their mail-in ballot at the NRG Arena and can track the status of their vote-by-mail application on the Harris County clerk’s website

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