Tuesday marks the beginning of the primary election season, as voting ends in Texas, the first state to hold its primary this year. In this election, Texas voters will decide nominees for governor, different statewide positions and 38 House seats.
This is Texas’ first election under its new election law that made changes to voting procedures, including banning drive-thru voting, instituting new ID requirements for voting by mail and limiting early voting hours.
Here’s what you need to know about voting in the Lone Star State this year:
Who can vote on Tuesday?
To be eligible to vote in the state, voters must be US citizens, residents of the counties their applications were submitted in, at least over the age of 17 years and 10 months on the dates of their registration submissions (and 18 years old on Election Day), not convicted felons and not declared “totally mentally incapacitated or partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote.”
When can I vote in person?
Polls open in Texas at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. local time on Tuesday. While most of the state is on Central Time, El Paso County, Hudspeth County and parts of Culberson County are on Mountain Time.
When voting in person, Texas voters can present one of the following acceptable forms of photo ID: Texas driver’s license, election identification certificate, personal identification card, handgun license, military identification card, citizenship certificate or passport.
Voters who don’t possess photo IDs can still vote in person using other forms of identification such as current utility bills, bank statements, paychecks, government checks or birth certificates.
Can I vote by mail?
Texas voters who are eligible to vote by mail include those who are over age 65, have disabilities or illnesses, will be out of the country on Election Day and during the period for early voting in person, will be expected to give birth within three weeks before or after Election Day or will be confined in jail.
In order to be counted, mail-in ballots must be postmarked by 7 p.m. Tuesday and received by 5 p.m. Thursday.
Per the new Texas voting law, voters who submitted mail-in ballots had to provide either Texas identification numbers or partial Social Security numbers on their absentee ballot application forms and on the envelopes to return the ballots. Applications for mail voting must have been received by February 18.
When was early voting?
Early in-person voting for Texas voters began on February 14 and ended on February 25.
Can I still register to vote in the primary?
The deadline to register to vote in this primary was January 31. Eligible voters in Texas must register by the 30th day before Election Day. Texas does not allow same-day voter registration.
Do I need to be registered with a political party to vote in the primary?
Texas’ primaries are open. This allows voters to vote in either primary, even if they are not registered as members of the party’s primary they are participating in. In a closed primary, voters can vote only in the party they are registered within.