Open Primary Elections in Texas
Texas is an open primary state, which means that voters do not ‘register’ as members of a particular political party. Rather, eligible Texas voters can cast a ballot in either party’s primary election – but not both. Primary Elections are run by the respective parties in each of Texas’ 254 counties. Party chairs in each county are responsible for conducting voting on Election Day, while county election officials administer the Early Voting period.
While many county parties contract with the county’s elections office to run joint or co-located primary election polling locations on Election Day, some county parties choose to run their own polling locations on Election Day. Contact your county’s elections office to verify how the parties in your county will be administering voting on Election Day.
If you vote in a party’s Primary Election, you can only vote in that same party’s Primary Runoff Election, which takes place on May 24th this year. If you do not vote in either party’s Primary Election, you may vote in either party’s Primary Runoff Election.
Texans can check to verify their registration status and find polling locations for the upcoming Primary Election by visiting the Texas Secretary of State’s My Voter Portal.
Where’s My Polling Place?
Registered and eligible voters may vote at ANY Early Voting location in their county of residence. Whether you are at home, work or out running errands, you will be able to find a polling place near you. Early voting locations will be populated in the Texas Secretary of State’s “My Voter Portal” two days prior to the first day of early voting. Here, use the “Am I Registered” section to enter your Name, County, Date of Birth and ZIP code to look up your registration information. On the right side of the screen, you will see a list of upcoming elections in which you will be able to vote. Click on the election in which you plan to vote and you will be provided with a list of Early Voting locations. You may want to contact the Early Voting Clerk for State and County Elections in your county for more information about Early Voting locations and hours.
On Election Day, if your county participates in the Countywide Polling Place Program (CWPP) – commonly referred to as ‘Vote Centers’ – you can vote at any location in your county of residence. If your county does not participate in the CWPP, you can only vote at the voting precinct assigned to you. Your residence is located in a specific “precinct” or area within the county where you will vote on Election Day. In some cases, precincts may be combined to accommodate joint local elections. You can find your voting precinct location by using the “Am I Registered?” tool on the Texas Secretary of State’s “My Voter Portal,”
When you arrive at the polling place, you will be asked to present one of the seven (7) acceptable forms of photo identification, unless you are a voter with a permanent exemption on your voter registration certificate. If you do not possess a form of acceptable photo identification and you cannot reasonably obtain one, you can show a supporting form of identification to the election official and execute a Reasonable Impediment Declaration (PDF). The election official will ask if you have moved and then ask you to sign the list of people who have voted in the precinct. Depending on the type of election – local, statewide, national, or combination – you will be handed:
- A paper ballot on which you will select your choices and which will be counted by hand;
- A paper ballot on which you will select your choices by darkening an oval, completing an arrow, or “marking” with the aid of a voting machine; or
- A slip of paper with a numerical access code or, in some counties, a ballot activator card. In the next available voting booth, enter your code or card and let the on-screen instructions guide you through the process of electronic voting.
Learn more about voting in person in Texas and voting systems used in Texas elections.
Voter ID Requirements
Under Texas law, voters who possess one of the seven acceptable forms of photo ID must present that ID at the polls when voting in person. Those seven approved forms of photo ID are:
- Texas Driver License issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
- Texas Personal Identification Card issued by DPS
- Texas Handgun License issued by DPS
- United States Military Identification Card containing the person’s photograph
- United States Citizenship Certificate containing the person’s photograph
- United States Passport (book or card)
Voters who do not possess and cannot reasonably obtain one of the seven approved forms of photo ID may fill out a Reasonable Impediment Declaration (RID) (PDF) at the polls and present an alternative form of ID, such as a utility bill, bank statement, government check, or a voter registration certificate.
Learn more about Voter ID requirements in Texas.
What’s Allowed at the Polling Place?
Under Texas law, you are not allowed to electioneer within 100 feet from the entrance of a polling place. This means you cannot post, use or distribute any political signs or literature relating to a candidate, political party or measure appearing on the ballot in the current election. If you are wearing a hat, t-shirt or button relating to a candidate, measure, or political party on the ballot, the presiding judge at the polling place has the ability to enforce the law within the 100-foot marker outside of the polling place entrance.
A voter may be asked to remove or cover up the apparel before entering the building, if that apparel relates to a candidate, measure or political party on the ballot. However, Texans are allowed to wear apparel relating to a candidate, measure or political party that does NOT appear on the ballot in the current election.
Additionally, Texans are not allowed to use wireless communications devices within 100 feet of the voting stations, and may not use mechanical or electronic devices to record sound or images within 100 feet of the voting stations.
Devices that should NOT be used in the polling place include:
- Cell phones
- Tablet computers
- Laptop computers
- Sound recorders
- Any other device that may communicate wirelessly, or be used to record sound or images.
Read more about what activities are and aren’t allowed in the vicinity of a polling place.
Voting by Mail
You are eligible to vote by mail in Texas if you are:
- 65 years of age or older on Election Day;
- Sick or disabled;
- Expecting to give birth within three weeks before or after Election Day;
- Absent from the county of registration during the Early Voting period and on Election Day;
- Civilly committed under Chapter 841 of the Texas Health and Safety Code; or
- Confined in jail, but otherwise eligible.
You can submit an Application for Ballot by Mail (ABBM) by downloading an application for a ballot by mail here (PDF); requesting an application from the Texas Secretary of State’s office; or requesting an application from the Early Voting Clerk in your county.
THE DEADLINE FOR YOUR ABBM TO BE RECEIVED BY YOUR COUNTY’S EARLY VOTING CLERK IS FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18TH.
To vote by mail, you must provide ONE of the following numbers on your ABBM (PDF) and Carrier Envelope (PDF) for your voted ballot:
- Texas Driver’s License, Texas Personal Identification Number or Election Identification Certificate Number issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (NOT your voter registration VUID number); OR
- If you have not been issued one of the numbers above, the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number
If you have not been issued a Texas Driver’s License, Texas Personal Identification Number or Texas Election Identification Certificate Number or a Social Security Number, you must indicate so by checking the appropriate box on the ABBM and the carrier envelope.
The identification number you provide DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THE SAME NUMBER THAT YOU ORIGINALLY REGISTERED TO VOTE WITH. The number must be associated with your voter registration record and, so long as the number you provide matches one of the numbers on your voter registration record, you will be provided with a ballot by mail if you are otherwise eligible to vote by mail. There is no prohibition against mail voters providing both numbers on their ballot by mail materials.
Make sure you also provide this information in the provided space on the Carrier Envelope (PDF) in which you return your voted ballot.
Ballot by Mail Tracker and Correcting ID Information
Once you’ve sent your Application for a Ballot by Mail (PDF) to your county’s Early Voting Clerk, you can check the status of your mail-in ballot through the Ballot by Mail Tracker, available on the Texas Secretary of State’s ‘My Voter Portal.’
To utilize the Ballot by Mail Tracker, you must enter:
- Your Texas Driver’s License Number or Texas Personal Identification Number, AND
- The last four digits of your social security number; AND
- Your residence address as listed in your voter registration record
If you received a notice (PDF) that your ABBM was rejected because you did not provide an identification number or the number included on your ABBM did not match one of the numbers associated with your voter registration record, you may correct the defect online through the Texas Secretary of State’s Ballot by Mail Tracker. When you log in to the Ballot by Mail Tracker, you will be prompted to enter your personal identification number(s). Once your personal identification number is validated by the Mail Ballot Tracker, the Application for a Ballot by Mail you previously submitted will be processed.
You may also correct missing or mismatched ID information on your Carrier Envelope through the Ballot by Mail Tracker.
If you received a notice that your ABBM was rejected for another reason, such as not indicating a party designation for your Primary Election ballot or submitting an outdated ABBM, you may be able to cure the defect by submitting a new ABBM (PDF) to your county’s Early Voting Clerk with the correct information.
To confirm your information as listed on your voter registration record be sure to visit the ‘Am I Registered?’ tool on the Texas Secretary of State’s My Voter Portal.
If you have specific questions about your registration or the status of your Application for Ballot by Mail, you should contact your county elections office.
Get Involved in Your Local Elections
Do you want to help eligible Texas voters get registered and vote? Do you have a passion for helping fellow voters in your community? Do you want to help educate voters about the election process?
If the answer is yes, there are plenty of ways for you to get involved in Texas. Whether you want to help out with registration or the voting process itself, the Texas Secretary of State’s office offers multiple online resources for those who want to:
- Become an Election Worker
- Become a Student Voting Clerk
- Become a Volunteer Deputy Registrar
- Become a Poll Watcher
To learn more, including how to access and complete the Texas Secretary of State’s online courses for Poll Workers and Poll Watchers, visit www.votexas.gov/get-involved.