Houston Voter FAQs

 

Electronic devices, including mobile phones and tablets, may NOT be used for any purpose while at the polls.

Where do I vote?

During the Early Voting Period; February 18-February 28, 2020; you may vote at any of the designated Early Voting Locations. They are posted online at www.harrisvotes.com or you can call 713-755-6965.

On Election Day, March 3, 2020, you may now cast your ballot at the neighborhood polling place designed for your precinct or at ANY Harris County Polling Location.
There are more than 750 polling places located throughout Harris County. Information about these locations is available online at www.harrisvotes.com or you can call 713-755-6965.
Please note: Your current neighborhood polling place may have changed from previous elections.
Where do I find my Precinct Number?

Your Precinct Number (Pct. No.) is shown in the middle of the left side of your yellow and white Voter Registration Certificate (VRC). If you wish, you can confirm your precinct number by contacting the Voter Registrar at 713-274-VOTE (8683) or visiting “voter search” at www.hctax.net/Voter/Search. 

What identification will be required at the Poll?
Each voter will be required to show one of the following forms of photo identification at the polling location in order to cast a ballot.
  • Texas driver license
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate (EIC) issued by DPS. For more information on the EIC application process please visit www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/electionID.htm.
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
  • Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
  • United States military identification card containing the voter’s photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the voter’s photograph
  • United States passport

Voters who do not present a valid form of acceptable identification will be permitted to cast a provisional ballot. These voters have until Monday, March 9, 2020 to present acceptable identification at any office of the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector (Branch Offices: Mon.-Fri., 8:00 am-4:30pm; Main Office/Downtown: Mon.-Fri. 8:00am-5:00pm). Once this and all other requirements are met, the provisional ballot must be accepted.

Exemption / Exceptions to the photo identification requirements:

Voters with a disability may apply with the county voter registrar for a permanent exemption. The application must contain written documentation from either the U.S. Social Security Administration evidencing he or she has been determined to have a disability, or from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs evidencing a disability rating of at least 50 percent. In addition, the applicant must state that he or she has no valid form of photo identification. Those who obtain a disability exemption will be allowed to vote by presenting a voter registration certificate reflecting the exemption. Please contact the voter registrar at 713-368-VOTE (8683) for more details.

Voters who have a consistent religious objection to being photographed and voters who do not have any valid form of photo identification as a result of certain natural disasters as declared by the President of the United States or the Texas Governor, may vote a provisional ballot, appear at the voter registrar’s office within six (6) calendar days after Election Day, and sign an affidavit swearing to the religious objection or natural disaster, in order for this ballot to be counted.

What may I take to the Poll?
If it’s handy, we recommend that you take your current orange and white Voter Registration Certificate since it contains useful voter information.
You can take this Voters Guide or other written or printed material for your personal use. Voters are not allowed to display or share any campaign material in the polling place. Voters may NOT access notes stored on electronic devices.
Does your voting name have to match the name on your photo ID?

Texas law requires election officials to determine if a voter’s name as shown on the identification credential matches the name as shown on the official list of registered voters. If the names are not exactly the same but are “substantially similar” the voter will be asked to initial a box affirming the match. The voting process will then continue as usual.

What if I’ve registered but election workers cannot find my name?

The Precinct Judge will contact the Voter Registrar by telephone immediately. If your registration cannot be verified, you are eligible to cast a provisional ballot. This form will include space to describe your particular circumstances and will be reviewed by the ballot board that meets after Election Day. You will receive a letter explaining whether your provisional ballot was accepted or rejected.

What if I need assistance or have physical limitations that must be accommodated?

Voters with special needs will be accommodated at all polling places. No medical explanation is necessary and no proof of illness or disability is required. Voters may be assisted by any person of their choice as they cast their ballots. However, a voter may not be assisted by his employer or his employer’s agent, or an agent of his union. The helper will be asked to sign an oath of assistance. A voter may also be assisted by a poll worker. To serve voters with mobility deficits or other physical limitations, all polling places will have ramp access and at least one “DAU” (disabled access unit) eSlate voting machine that offers audio voting, puff-and-sip voting and a lower stance for those who use a wheelchair or prefer to sit. Curbside voting is also available for those whose health and safety require that they remain in their vehicles. The curbside voter should send a companion into the polling place with the voter’s identification and an eSlate machine will be brought directly to the vehicle.

How long may I take to vote?

Voters may take as much time as they wish at the eSlate machine. Once activated the ballot will not time out or expire. If you are having problems using the machine, you may ask a poll worker for assistance.

When can I vote?
You may vote:
  • In person on Election Day at your assigned precinct’s polling place or at any Harris County Countywide Voting Center.
  • In person at designated times and locations during the Early Voting period, Tuesday, February 18, 2020 through Friday, February 28, 2020.
  • By mail if you are at least age 65, disabled, confined in jail but still eligible to vote, or if absence from the county will prevent you from casting a ballot during the Early Voting Period and on Election Day. For this election your application for a ballot by mail must be received in the County Clerk’s office by Friday, October 25, 2019. Applications must be mailed or hand delivered.
How do I vote by mail?
Some voters qualify to vote by mail. The request for a Ballot by Mail must be received by the County Clerk’s office no later than Friday, February 21, 2020. Except for mail ballots coming from overseas or military voters, all completed mail ballots must arrive at the County Clerk’s office by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, if carrier envelope is not postmarked, OR Wednesday, March 4, 2020 at 5:00 p.m., if carrier envelope is postmarked by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day. If you request a mail ballot and then decide to vote in person, you will be asked to relinquish your paper mail ballot when you arrive at the polling place. If your paper ballot is not available, you will still be able to vote in person, using the provisional ballot option.
What about a student who is registered to vote at the family home, but will be on campus during Election Season?
  • A student can return home to vote on Election Day or during the Early Voting period.
  • A student whose school address is outside Harris County can vote by mail. Please see ballot by mail instructions, above.
May I vote if I have permanently changed my address and still live in Harris County?

You may vote a full ballot in accordance with your former precinct details. Failure to update your address information will affect your ability in future elections. You will be able to vote in your new precinct 30 days after your notice has been received by the Voter Registrar.

May I vote if I have changed my address and move to another county?

You must complete a new registration form when you move to a new county. However, you may be eligible to vote a limited ballot in your new county (i.e. on measures in common between your former and new county) if you vote during the Early Voting period only. Your registration in your new county of residence must have been submitted by October 7, 2019 for you to vote in your new residence in this Election. Failure to register in your new county of residence will affect your ability in future elections.

What does the term “suspense” mean on a voter’s record?

The term “suspense” is used to designate those voters for whom the Harris County Voter Registrar does not have a current, confirmed address. An individual on the suspense list is still a registered voter and has the same rights as a non-suspense list voter. “Suspense” voters may cast a regular ballot after completing a Statement of Residence form.

For Military and Overseas Voters
Eligible Military Personnel, Spouses or Dependents of the Military, and Civilians Overseas now have the ability to complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) online. Please go to: www.harrisvotes. com or call 713-755-6965 for more detailed information.
Why can I only find information on Democratic and Republican Candidates?

The Voters Guide covers races that will be decided in a contested primary election, which at this time is the method used by the Democratic and Republican political parties. To learn more about how to participate in the selection of nominees for parties that use the convention process, please contact that party.

How do I participate in Green or Libertarian Party candidate selection?

By state law, the Green and Libertarian Parties select their candidates using a convention process. These parties may nominate candidates for any office that will appear on the General Election ballot and multiple candidates may seek their Party’s nomination for any office.

If you wish to participate in the selection of Green or Libertarian Party nominees, you MAY NOT vote in the March 3 Primary. Each voter may only participate in the nominee selection process of ONE party (Democrat, Green, Libertarian or Republican). When casting their ballot in the November General Election, however, voters may vote for the nominees of any party.

For more information about the Green Party and participating in their nominating convention, please go to: http://www.txgreens.org/

For more information about the Libertarian Party and participating in their nominating convention, please go to: http://www.lptexas.org/2020_candidates

Why are judicial elections important?

Judges make decisions about fundamental issues that affect all of us—family life, education, healthcare, housing, employment, finances, discrimination, civil rights, public safety, and govern­ment actions. Those decisions can have long-lasting impact on individuals, groups, and the public as a whole. It is critical that our judges make fair decisions based upon open-minded and unbiased consideration of the facts and the law in each case. Judges must know the law and not be influenced by any external political and economic factors.

What should voters look for when electing judges?

According to the American Bar Association, principles to consider in selection of judges include:

  • Judges should uphold the rule of law.
  • Judges should be independent and impartial.
  • Judges should possess the appropriate temperament and character.
  • Judges should possess the appropriate capabilities and credentials.
  • Judges and the judiciary should have the confidence of the public.
  • The judicial system should be diverse and reflective of the society it serves.
  • Judges should be constrained to perform their duties in a manner that justifies public faith and confidence in the court.

Unlike candidates for most political offices, judicial candidates cannot make promises about deci­sions they would make when certain issues or types of cases come up in their court. Questions posed to judges, therefore, focus on improvements they would make to their court, the need for impartiality and how they would increase access to justice.

How is the Texas court system organized?

The Texas court system is made up of a statewide network of trial courts and appellate courts. In trial courts, judges and/or juries evaluate the facts and the law and make a decision in a civil or criminal legal dispute. When decisions in most trial courts are appealed, they are sent to an appellate court where judges consider what happened at the trial court, evaluate legal arguments, and then decide if a mistake was made. See https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1444966/court-structure-chart-october-2019.pdf for a chart of the Texas court structure.

The state’s two highest courts, the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals, have both administrative and appellate responsibilities. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeals within Texas for both civil and juvenile cases. The Court of Criminal Appeals hears criminal cases that are appealed from one of the 14 Courts of Appeals and death penalty cases that by law go straight to the Court of Criminal Appeals. Members of the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Ap­peal are elected for six-year terms, with three elected every two years. Vacancies on either of these two courts are filled by gubernatorial appointment until the next general election.

What do the “Propositions” on the Primary Ballot mean?

The Propositions on the Primary Ballot are a sort of straw poll of primary voters’ opinions. Voters will find Propositions on both the Democratic and Republican ballots.  Each political party places it own list of non-binding propositions on the ballot to allow their Primary voters to weigh-in on what they think should become the guiding principles of the party that are then reflected in their party’s state or national party platforms.

Unlike in other elections, voters are not deciding to enact new laws, approve new taxes or amend the Texas Constitution.


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