Early voting kicks off in Texas on Tuesday. In Williamson County, a record number of eligible residents — more than 372,000 — registered to vote. The county expects to see 66% of them vote early this year.
There has also been a record number of people applying to vote by mail. Williamson County Elections Administrator Chris Davis said the county has received more than 27,000 requests for mail-in ballots, more than double what it's received in any year prior.
In order to handle these record numbers and to mitigate the risks of COVID-19, there are a few ways the elections office plans to help voters with the process.
Make Sure You’re Registered
Go here to verify your registration anywhere in the state. The deadline to register in Texas was Oct. 5.
You must vote at a location in the county where you live. Williamson County has a site for voters to find where the nearest polling location is and the expected wait time.
Early voting runs until Oct. 30. The county has 19 early voting locations. They’re open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m.
On Election Day, Nov. 3, there will be 57 polling locations open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can find those locations here.
Voting locations will have at least 10 poll workers assisting people during early voting, and Davis anticipates that number will increase on Election Day. Poll workers will wear masks and face shields, encourage social distancing and sanitize voting machines.
Davis said it is important for voters to know that masks are encouraged, but not required at polling locations.
Don’t Forget An ID
Bring a photo ID that is up to date, or expired up to four years, to the polls. 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 just don’t have one, you can bring one of these:
- A government document showing your name and an address, like your voter registration certificate
- A bank statement
- A government check
- A paycheck
- A current utility bill
- Your 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.
Williamson County has for the first time introduced a website where residents can check the status of their mail-in ballots. With the unprecedented number of applications to vote by mail, Davis said this is a way for residents to immediately check their ballot’s status, rather than having to wait for a response from the elections office.
Residents can check the status of their application, whether their ballot has been mailed to them and if it has been received and accepted.
Texans have until Oct. 23 to apply for a mail-in ballot. KUT put together a guide on how to vote by mail here.
The Williamson County Commissioner’s Court approved a new voting system for the county in April 2019.
You'll receive a blank ballot at check-in to insert into the ExpressVote ballot marking devices. After making your selections, you'll be prompted to print and review your ballot. Before you leave, you must insert the ballot into the digital scanner or your vote won’t be counted.
Every polling location will have a curbside option for voters. It is offered to all, but typically used by those who may be physically unable to enter the polling location. Davis added that it will be available for people who may be exhibiting COVID-19-related symptoms as well. Poll workers will be wearing added personal protective equipment while assisting curbside voters.
“It's not meant for a voter to use for expediency’s sake,” Davis said. “It's meant for a voter to use for their safety’s sake or for accessibility’s sake if they're not able to physically access their regular polling place.”
What’s On The Ballot?
We’ve put together a voter guide to help you learn more about who and what is on the ballot in Williamson County. You can also find a sample ballot on the county website.