Early voting officially begins in Texas on Tuesday and runs through Oct. 30. In addition to the presidential election, Travis County voters have the chance to weigh in on a number of local and state races. Those in Austin have some transportation measures to decide as well.
The runup to the election has been contentious (and litigious) to say the least. Several governor’s orders and court decisions regarding mail-in ballots and straight-ticket voting came down just weeks before the start of early voting. And with pandemic protocols in place, voting at the polls — and where the polls are located — looks different this year.
Make Sure You’re Registered.
Go here to verify your registration anywhere in the state. The deadline to register to vote in Texas has passed.
Voting By Mail? Check Your Ballot-By-Mail Status.
If you’ve applied to vote by mail for the general election, you can check the status of your ballot on the VoteTravis.com website.
Just scroll down to “Voter Lookup” and enter your information. Then, hit “BBM Status,” which stands for ballot-by-mail status. It will then tell you if the county has received your ballot-by-mail application, if your ballot has been mailed to you, and if the county has received your ballot.
If you still want to vote by mail but haven’t applied yet, you have until Oct. 23 to apply. KUT put together a guide on how to vote by mail here.
Voting In Person? Here’s Where You Can Go.
Some of your go-to voting locations, like grocery stores, aren’t going to be used as polling sites this fall because of the pandemic.
Below is a map of early voting locations and current wait times. You can vote early Oct. 13-30, Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
During the last three days of early voting — Oct. 28, 29 and 30 — six sites will have extended hours, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Ben Hur Shrine Center
- Millennium Youth Complex
- PfISD Rock Gym
- South Park Meadows, Suite 400
- South Park Meadows, Suite 500
- Austin Central Library
And if you’re planning to wait for Election Day, Nov. 3, here’s a map of where you can vote then. Election Day voting locations are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Remember: You can vote after polls close as long as you’re in line by 7 p.m.
Nervous About Mailing In Your Absentee Ballot?
Travis County residents can hand deliver their mail-in ballot via drive-thru at the Travis County Tax Office at 5501 Airport Blvd. The county had originally set up four drive-thru locations, but Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order Oct. 1 saying counties would be limited to only one drop-off site. Voters and voting groups are challenging the order. For now, only the Airport Boulevard site is open.
You can deliver your mail-in ballot during these times:
- Oct. 13 to Nov. 1: Monday through Saturday from 7 to 7 p.m., or Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
- Nov. 2: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Nov. 3: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
You’ll have to show ID and sign a signature roster before depositing your ballot into a ballot box. You can only drop off your own ballot, not anyone else’s.
We’ve answered more questions about mail-in voting here.
Don’t Forget Your ID.
Whether you’re voting in person or dropping off your mail-in ballot, make sure to bring a photo ID. The ID should be up to date or expired up to four years. Voters 70 or older can bring a photo ID that has been expired for any length of time.
If you had trouble getting an ID and can’t get one, here are some alternatives:
- government document showing your name and an address, such as your voter registration certificate
- current utility bill
- bank statement
- government check
- birth certificate
If you use one of these, you’ll have to sign a form that says you had a reasonable impediment to getting an ID.
Wear A Mask! And Other COVID-19 Precautions To Take:
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, local officials are asking voters to do the following:
- Wash your hands before and after voting. Hand sanitizer will be available at the polling places.
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
- Make sure you don’t feel sick before going to vote in person.
- Keep at least 6 feet between yourself and others.
Voters will be given finger coverings and wooden sticks so they don’t have to directly touch the voting machines.
Watch this video from the Travis County Clerk's Office to learn more about the sanitation precautions that will be in place:
Leave The Campaign Masks And T-Shirts At Home.
According to Texas’ election code, you can’t “electioneer” within 100 feet of the entrance of a polling place, which includes “the posting, use or distribution of political signs or literature.” That means you can’t wear clothing or accessories — including face masks — that show support for or against a candidate, ballot measure or political party.
The offense is a class C misdemeanor. But if you forget, a poll worker will likely tell you to cover up or turn your campaign shirt inside out.
Know How The Voting Machines Work.
If you haven’t voted in Travis County before or if it’s been a while, you may not be familiar with the voting machines. Watch this video we made ahead of the elections last November.
Remember: Straight-ticket voting won’t be a thing this election. A federal appeals court on Sept. 30 upheld a 2017 state law ending the practice. So, you won’t be able to select every candidate of a political party with one click.
Know Who And What You’re Voting For.
To help you remember who you want to vote for, you can print your own ballot, make selections and bring it with you to the polls.
You can print your sample ballot, make your selections, and bring it with you when you vote.
— Travis County Clerk (@TravisCoClerk) October 9, 2020
We’ve put together some voter guides to help you learn more about who and what is on the ballot in Austin and Travis County.