Everything you need to know about voting in the 2020 November General Election

Your presidential election FAQs answered

Generic Vote 2020 graphic (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – At this point, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about why it’s important to vote in the Nov. 3 General Election, but you may still have some questions about when, where and how to do it.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

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Find resources, results and race previews on our Vote 2020 page or sign up for our Vote 2020 newsletter to get hand-picked coverage each Tuesday aimed at helping voters better understand the election, candidates, issues and implications.

Which races are on the ballot?

The most-talked about race is obviously the one that will decide who will be president and vice president for the next four years.

Texas recognizes four political parties -- The Democratic Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party and Republican Party.

Here are your choices on the November ballot:

  • Donald J. Trump /Michael R. Pence REP
  • Joseph R. Biden /Kamala D. Harris DEM
  • Jorgensen /Jeremy “Spike” Cohen LIB
  • Howie Hawkins /Angela Walker GRN
  • Or you can write-in a candidate’s name

In the United States, even if one of the candidates gets the most votes, it doesn’t guarantee they will become president. That’s because we have the electoral college and a candidate must get 270 electoral college votes to win. This article explains more about how it works.

But the presidential race isn’t the only one on the ballot. The General Election ballot in Texas will include other federal, state and county races as well as city and school district races, depending on your precinct.

If you are registered to vote in Bexar County, you can check out the sample ballots here.

Otherwise, you can check your county’s ballot here on the Texas Secretary of State’s website.

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.

Who can vote in the General Election?

U.S. citizens who are 18 years old by Election Day and registered to vote by Oct. 5 in Texas can vote in the Texas General Election on Nov. 3, unless prohibited by law.

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.

When can I vote?

Registered voters can vote in person either during the early voting period from Oct. 13 to Oct. 30 or on Election Day on Nov. 3.

A recent Bexar Facts-KSAT-San Antonio Report poll found that most voters in Bexar County plan to take advantage of the early voting period, which is typical of recent elections.

Early voting hours are as followed:

  • Tuesday to Saturday, Oct. 13-17: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 18: Noon-6 p.m.
  • Monday to Saturday, Oct. 19-24: 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 25: Noon-6 p.m.
  • Monday to Friday, Oct. 26-30: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Polls will be open on Nov. 3 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Bexar County.

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.

During the early voting there will be 50 polling places open daily. To allow for better access and social distancing, the AT&T Center will become a mega voting center. Click here for a list of early voting locations in Bexar County.

In lieu of voting in person, some voters may be eligible to vote by mail.

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

Bexar County voters who are interested in voting by mail must submit this application to the Bexar County Elections Department, but the applications must be received — not postmarked — no later than 11 days before Election Day, or Oct. 23. 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.

While the rules regarding who can vote by mail have not changed this year, Gov. Greg Abbott has expanded how and when the mail-in ballots can be turned in.

In July, Gov. Abbott issued a proclamation allowing voters to deliver a marked mail ballot in person to the early voting clerk’s office prior to and including on Election Day.

All 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.

Bexar County voters can go here to track the status of their mail-in ballot application and ballot.

Members of the military and other overseas voters can also track the status of their ballot online here.

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 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.

What can’t I bring to the polls?

Unless you’re a peace officer, Section 46.03(a) of the Texas Penal Code generally prohibits a person from bringing a firearm onto the premises of a polling place.

Voters are not allowed to use their phones or other wireless communications devices within 100 feet of the voting stations including:

  • Cell phones
  • Cameras
  • Tablet computers
  • Laptop computers
  • Sound recorders
  • Any device that may communicate wirelessly or be used to record sound or images

Voters cannot wear clothing or bring signs expressing a preference for or against any candidate, measure, or political party within 100 feet of the voting station.

Voters are allowed to bring in written materials to help them in casting their ballots, so you can make notes about candidates beforehand and reference them as you vote as long as they’re not visible to other voters or used to campaign for a candidate.

Am I required to wear a face mask to vote?

While Texans are not mandated by the state to wear masks while voting, the Secretary of State’s office is encouraging it, along with other health precautions.

State officials urge voters to practice proper social distancing and hygiene standards and to self-screen for any COVID-19 symptoms before going to the polls.

Voters who are sick on Election Day may be able to vote curbside and are encouraged to contact their county election’s office with questions about the process.

Hand sanitizer may be provided at polling places but voters are encouraged to bring their own and disinfect their hands before interacting with election workers or using voting system equipment.

Bexar County polling places will be stocked with hand sanitizer, styluses and masks for voters to use, county officials said.

Remember that, just as you can’t wear political clothing to polling locations, politically-themed face masks are also not allowed.

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 our homepage and our Vote 2020 page.

You can also get election results from these websites:

Helpful Links:

  • League of Women Voters of Texas 2020 General Election Non-Partisan Voters Guide in English.
  • League of Women Voters of Texas 2020 General Election Non-Partisan Voters Guide in Spanish.

About the Author

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

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