Nation News

2024 primaries: What to know before casting your vote in March

Lily Huynh/The Cougar

Texas will get the chance to decide who they want on the ballot for the November 2024 election during the March primaries.

Early voting for the primary will run from Feb. 20 to March 2, with the primary being held on March 5. The last day to register to vote, to be eligible to vote is Feb.5.

What are the primaries? 

The primaries determine who gets to represent each party in the general election in November. In Texas, the primaries are not just for the presidential election but are held for all different offices that are on the ballot.

“In Texas, the primaries are considered open, which means that any registered voter can participate and they get to decide whether to participate in the Republican or the Democratic primary, but you have to go Republican or Democrat across the board,” said political science assistant professor J. Bryan Cole.

The Texas primary is on Super Tuesday. During the presidential election cycle, different states take turns holding primaries and Caucasus. Super Tuesday is when the greatest number of states vote on the same day and Texas is one of them. Approximately 25% of all of the delegates are up for grabs on that day, Cole said.

For the Green and Libertarian parties, their candidates will be chosen through a series of local conventions starting March 12 and a state convention that each party will need to announce by that time. In Texas, voters can only vote in either the Republican or Democratic party’s primary and run off or in the third party’s convention.

Who is on the ballot?

Other than the presidential candidates, eligible Texans will be able to cast their votes for Texas officials running on the federal, state and local level.

“This will include the members of Congress, it will include Ted Cruz’s re-election and it will include the state legislature, some state officials and some county officials and lots of judges,” Cole said.

Other open seats include, three members of the Texas Supreme Court, five Chief Justices and various justices for the Texas Court of Appeals, seven state board of education members, among several other lower-level judges and local county officials. Voters in Harris County can view their sample ballots here. 

“Except for the presidential race, you have to get at least 50% of the primary vote in order to win. If you don’t, then there will be a runoff and the runoff will be the top two people in that office for that party,” Cole said.

The primary and a possible runoff on May 28, will set the state for the general election.

How to register to vote? 

Firstly, you need to check if you meet the requirements and are eligible to vote. To be able to vote, you need to be a U.S. citizen, be over 18 years old and you cannot be a convicted felon or be declared mentally incapacitated in a court of law.

The 1998 Higher Education Act requires that the University make a “good faith effort” to make voter registration forms available to students. There are voter registration forms made available to students at the various locations on campus, such as all the residence hall information desks, the student centers and at the dean of students office, according to the University website

Make sure to have the form filled out correctly and then turn it in at a nearby election office. Have documents such as your birth certificate and social security card handy to help you fill out the necessary paperwork.

The nearest elections office to the University is at Palm Center located at 5300 Griggs Rd, according to the Harris County voter registration siteIf you need to check if you are registered to vote, you can verify your information at the Texas Secretary of State’s office.  

Out-of-state students will need to decide if they want to vote at their home precinct via an absentee ballot or vote at Harris County, for which they will need to re-register. It is important to note that it’s illegal to register in two states simultaneously.

Important Dates, Voting Locations 

Harris County will have 79 early-voting locations, which will be open from Feb. 20 to March 1. Voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, with the exception of Sunday Feb. 25, when the voting center will be open at noon instead.

The Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Fellowship Hall located at 53826 Wheeler Avenue, is the nearest early voting location to the University, according to the Harris County voter centers site. 

The University will host a voting location on election day at Student Center South on Election Day, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

What to bring to the voting booth?

Voters will need to bring one of the seven valid forms of photo identification with them to the voting booth. Valid forms of identification include a driver’s license, election identification certificates, personal identification card and a Texas handgun license.

Federal identifications such as a U.S. military identification card, U.S. citizenship certificate or a U.S. passport are also acceptable forms of identification.

If you do not have a valid photo ID, you might be able to fill a reasonable impediment form and show supporting documents such as a voter registration certificate, credited U.S. birth certificate, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check to any other government document showing your name or address.

While there are no electronics allowed inside the voting booth, voters can bring a piece of paper with their list of candidates and research to make the voting process easier. Just make sure to take the paper back with you when you are done voting.

[email protected]

Leave a Comment