SAN ANTONIO – By now, you probably know that 2020 is an important election year. The General Election is on Nov. 3, but there will be opportunities to vote before that.
Texas is one of 14 states with primary elections on Super Tuesday in March. It’s called Super Tuesday because it’s when the greatest number of U.S. states hold primary elections and caucuses, and the results are usually a good indication of which presidential candidate will secure his or her party’s nomination.
If you are interested in the voting and the election process, but unsure about how it all works, that’s OK. Hopefully, this article will help answer any questions you may have.
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What is a Primary Election?
In Texas, the primary elections are actually two separate elections that occur on the same date, March 3 (early voting runs from Feb. 18 to Feb. 28.) The Republican and Democratic parties use statewide primary elections to select their nominees for the general election in November.
Winners are determined by majority vote. If no single candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes during the primary, the top two candidates will head to a runoff election in May.
Texas recognizes four political parties -- The Democratic Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party and Republican Party.
The Green and Libertarian parties nominate candidates by convention and their candidates will not appear on the primary election ballot. Click here to find out how to vote in the Green or Libertarian party conventions.
Which races are on the ballot?
The Texas Primary ballots will include federal, state and county races.
If you are registered to vote in Bexar County, you can check out the March Primary ballots here:
Otherwise, you can check your county’s ballot here on the Texas Secretary of State’s website.
Your Election Questions Answered: What are the propositions on the Primary Election ballots and what do they mean?
How do I find out which congressional or legislative district I live in and who currently represents me in state and federal elected positions?
You can enter your address on the Texas Legislature’s website and get a list of your state and federal representatives.
If you live in Bexar County, you can find information about all of the races in your precinct here.
You can find your precinct on your voter registration card or online. You can also check your county’s election website for precinct information.
Watch: News at 9′s 2020 primary election preview
Who can vote in the Texas Primary Election?
U.S. citizens who are 18 years old by Election Day and registered to vote by Feb. 3 in Texas can vote in the Texas Primary Election on March 3, unless prohibited by law.
Can I vote in both the Republican and Democratic primaries?
No. A voter will choose either to vote in the Republican Primary or the Democratic Primary, but cannot vote in both.
If a voter chooses to vote in one party’s primary election, the voter will only be permitted to vote in the same party’s runoff election on May 26. If a voter does not vote in the March Primary, he or she will still be permitted to vote in the runoff and will choose one party’s ballot on that date.
After a voter affiliates themselves with a party, the voter cannot change party affiliation during that calendar year.
A person who plans to vote in the convention for either the Green or Libertarian Party should abstain from voting in the Republican or Democratic primary because doing so would make them ineligible.
However, affiliation with a political party does not determine how a voter can vote during the General Election in November.
How can I find out if I’m registered to vote?
Click here to check to see if you’re registered.
What if I’ve lost my voter registration card?
You can notify your county voter registrar in writing to get a new one.
If I’m not already registered to vote, how do I register?
There are several ways to register.
You can fill out a voter registration application online. You will need to print it out and mail it to the voter registrar in your county of residence.
You can register in person at your county voter registration office. The Bexar County Elections office is located at 1103 S. Frio, Suite 100. If you live in a county other than Bexar, you can find out where to register in person here.
You can request a postage-paid application from your voter registrar by filling out this form.
When do I vote in 2020?
Registered voters can vote at the polls during the early voting period from Feb. 18 to Feb. 28, or vote at the polls on Primary Election Day on March 3 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Some voters may be eligible to vote by mail.
Click here for a list of early voting locations in Bexar County.
In addition to the March Primary date, there will be a runoff election on May 26. The General Election is Nov. 3.
Click here for all of the 2020 election dates and deadlines.
Who can vote by mail?
U.S. Armed Forces and Merchant Marines, their dependents and U.S. citizens who live abroad can vote early by mail. For more information, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website.
Mail/absentee ballot voting is also available to elderly voters and voters with physical disabilities. You may be eligible to vote by mail if you are:
- Going to be away from your county on Election Day and during early voting.
- Out-of-state college students who still claim a Texas address as their primary residence.
- Sick or disabled
- 65 years of age or older on Election Day
- Confined in jail, but eligible to vote
Absentee/mail-in ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots from overseas voters must be received by the 5th day after Election Day. Ballots from members of the armed forces must be received by the 6th day after Election Day. Members of the military and other overseas voters can track the status of their ballot online.
Bexar County voters who are interested in voting by mail must submit this application to the Bexar County Elections Department no later than 11 days before Election Day. If you have questions, call 210-335-0362.
Click here to find out where to submit your application for ballot by mail in other Texas counties.
Where do I vote?
Depending on which county you live in, you may be able to vote at any polling place in your county or you may have to vote in your specific precinct. Atascosa, Bexar, Comal, DeWitt, Guadalupe, Hays, Kendall and Medina County are approved to use the Countywide Polling Place Program which allows users to vote anywhere in their county during early voting and on election day.
If you do not live in one of those counties or prefer to vote in your precinct, you can check your poll location through your county or through the Secretary of State’s website.
Click here to view Bexar County’s voter precincts.
What do I need to bring to the polls?
You will be required to show identification to vote in Texas. Here is a list of the acceptable forms of photo ID:
- 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)
Your ID may be expired no more than four years unless you’re 70-years-old, and then the acceptable form of ID can be expired for any length of time.
If a voter has one of the acceptable forms of IDs but forgets to bring it to the polling place, the voter can vote provisionally. That voter will then have six days to present a photo ID to the county voter registrar or fill out a natural disaster affidavit, or the vote will not count.
If you do not have one of the acceptable forms of ID and cannot reasonably obtain one, you can fill out a Reasonable Impediment Declaration at your place of voting and must show one of the following supporting forms of ID:
- copy or original of a government document that shows the voter’s name and an address, including the voter registration certificate;
- copy of or original current utility bill;
- copy of or original bank statement;
- copy of or original government check;
- copy of or original paycheck; or
- copy of or original of (a) a certified domestic (from a U.S. state or territory) birth certificate or (b) a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes the voter’s identity (which may include a foreign birth document).
Voters with a disability may apply with the county voter registrar for a permanent exemption to the photo ID requirement.
How do I vote?
Texas uses three methods to vote: (The following information comes directly from the Secretary of State’s office.)
- Paper ballots are still used as the primary way of voting in a number of Texas counties. Voters mark their ballot by hand with an indelible marker (a marker that cannot be erased) or pen and place their finished ballot in a ballot box. Local election officials then count the votes by hand.
- Optical scan voting systems enable voters to mark their choices on preprinted ballots by either connecting “arrows” or filling in “bubbles” next to the candidates’ names. The paper ballot is then inserted into an electronic ballot counter, which then counts the marked “bubbles” or “arrows” on each ballot and automatically computes the totals for each candidate and/or issue.
- DREs (Direct Record Electronic systems) enable voters to record their choices electronically directly into the machine. There are several types of DREs (some have a dial while others use a touch screen), but essentially they all enable voters to move back and forth between screens (ballot pages) to select the candidates and/or issues for whom they wish to vote. Once a voter has made his or her choices, the DRE provides a summary screen that presents those choices and gives the voter the ability to go back and make any changes before pressing the “Vote” or “Cast Ballot” button. One of the benefits of a DRE system is that it prevents “over-voting”; that is, it stops the voter from selecting two candidates or options in a race where only one is allowed. As well, a DRE gives the voter an opportunity to correct “under-voting,” or failing to select any candidate or option in a race.
Each voting location must offer at least one accessible voting system that enables the blind, elderly, physically disabled, and non-reading Texans to vote independently and in private.
Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to see which system your county uses and get step-by-step voting instructions.
Where can I find election results?
KSAT will have election results on KSAT.com and on our website.
You can also get election results from these websites: