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Voting in Austin: Where to go, what to bring, what to know

Election basics for 2019

Pile of round red, white, and blue buttons with stars, reading “Vote.”
Austin 2019 voting has begun

This article was originally published on October 20, 2018, and has been updated.

Election Day 2019 is Tuesday, November 4.

With all that in mind, we have updated our guide to election basics: what you need to go, bring, do, and know to make your voice heard.

Check your voter registration

Unfortunately, if you haven’t registered to vote, it’s too late to do so for this cycle.

If you are registered in Travis County, it’s a good idea to check to confirm. Check out this site to verify your registration anywhere in the state.

Registered in another Texas county? Go to the Texas secretary of state’s site to see if you’re squared away.

When and where to vote

Election Day: Tuesday, November 4, 2019

Travis County voters can cast Election Day ballots at any election center in the county.

You can look up voting sites by county on the Texas secretary of state’s page or log in to the site to get a list of places narrowed down to where you are registered. You can also just look for a place displaying a “Vote Here/Aquí” sign.

Voting locations are open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. If you are in line by 7 p.m., stay in line. You must be allowed to vote.

Here is a Google map of Election Day locations.

What to take with you

The following are required to vote in Texas:

• Be registered to vote in Texas. Check if you’re registered to vote.

• Be a US citizen

• Be 18 by Election Day, Nov. 4

• Live at a Texas address

• Not be serving a sentence (including parole) for a felony conviction

• Not have been determined by a court to be (1) totally mentally incapacitated; or (2) partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote.

Got all that? Here’s what you need to vote in person at the polls:

You must show a valid ID to vote. The ID must be current or be expired for fewer than four years:

• Texas driver license issued by the Department of Public Safety

• Texas election ID certificate

• Texas personal ID card

• Texas license to carry a handgun

• US military ID card with your photograph

• US citizenship certificate containing your photograph (doesn’t need to be current)

• US passport

If you do not have any of the above forms of ID Voters without ID and cannot obtain one due to a reasonable impediment, you’ll need to sign a sworn statement that there is a reason why you don’t have any of the forms of ID and present one of the following:

  • Certified birth certificate (original)
  • Valid voter registration certificate
  • A current utility bill, government check, bank statement or paycheck, or government document with your name and an address (original required if it contains a photograph).

If you meet these requirements and are eligible to vote, you may vote in the election.

If you don’t have ID and do not have a reasonable impediment to obtaining one, or did not bring ID to the polling place, you have the right to cast a provisional ballot. In order to have the provisional ballot counted, you will be required to visit the voter registrar’s office within six calendar days of the date of the election to either present one of the forms of photo ID or submit one a temporary affidavit in the presence of the county voter registrar while attesting to the fact that you do not have any of the required photo IDs.

Welcome to the new machines

Don’t be surprised if voting machines look different from the last time you voted. Many Central Texas counties have new ones, and some—including those in Travis and Williamson counties now have a paper ballot.

Travis County has provided a helpful video on how to use the new machines.

What to do if you have a disability and can’t get into a polling place

Voters with disabilities that limit their mobility and who have no means to help them get into a building where they can vote can get their ballots curbside—though it does require the assistance of a person who is able to get into the building.

If a voter with a disability has someone else drive them to the polling place, that person can park close to the entrance, go inside, cut the line, and ask an election worker to take a ballot to the vehicle for voting. Voters with this type of disability who can drive are advised to bring a companion to do the same. Groups providing free rides to the polls might also have volunteers who are willing to do this.

What to do with your phone while you’re voting

Put it away (and turn it off). Not only are voting selfies, as in much of the country, forbidden, but Texas’ Election Code also states that voters cannot use a “wireless communication device within 100 feet of a voting station.” If you need a reminder list of choices, you’ll have to take it in on paper or some other non-wireless device.

You can, however, bring in paper materials—presumably including cheat sheets on whom to vote for, as long as they are not publicly visible campaign materials.

What not to wear

Texas law prohibits “electioneering” within 100 feet of the voting site. That includes the display of partisan paraphernalia on one’s bod, and people have been turned away for doing so (and, presumably, refusing to cover them up). So if you’re planning on wearing a such items to the polls, be prepared to be asked to remove them or cover them up.

What to do if you’re harassed while voting

It’s not exactly a pleasant thing to think about, but considering the fervor surrounding electoral politics at the moment, there’s a chance—however minuscule—that there may be instances of voter intimidation at polling sites.

Voter intimidation and harassment is illegal. If you see harassment, deceptive information, or other suspicious behavior at the polls, report it to:

• The nearest election worker

• Your local municipal clerk or the chief elections inspector at your polling place

• The U.S. Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline: 800-253-3931; TTY line 877-267-8971

• The Election Protection Hotline: 844-898-6837

Poll watchers are allowed to observe inside the polling places, but they cannot:

• Speak to you, ask you for ID, or interact directly with you in any way;

• Watch you vote at the voting station (unless you ask for assistance from an election officer);

• Directly challenge your vote or even speak with the election judges or clerks about the election;

• Use a cell phone or other wireless communication device in polling place or carry any recording devices (video or sound) or wear a name tag.