to the ballot box

Everything Austin voters need to know about this presidential election season

Everything Austin voters need to know about this presidential election

Vote here sign
Election season is upon us.  IssueVoter/Facebook

Update, October 2: Following publication of this article, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's announced his decision to drastically limit the number of places to drop-off absentee ballots. We've updated this story with information about mail-in ballots. Read more about his decision here.

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Editor's note: This article has the most accurate information possible, but is not a comprehensive guide. For any questions or concerns, contact the Travis County Clerk online or call the Travis County Elections Division with questions at 512-238-VOTE. 

'Tis the season for pumpkin-flavored fall drinks, tacky spooky decor — and voting. Yes, voting, in October. 

While Election Day for the 2020 presidential election is technically Tuesday, November 3, Texans can cast their ballots as early as Tuesday, October 13 when early voting begins through Friday, October 30.

Read on for detailed information on how to vote in Travis County. Because everyone knows a pumpkin spice latte just hits different after you’ve exercised your civic duty at the polls.

First things first, let’s make sure you’re all set to vote.

Am I registered to vote?

Check here. Not seeing yourself but could swear you are registered? Try checking with Travis County directly.

I’m not registered. Now what?

Don’t panic. Voter registration deadline in Texas is October 5.

Your best bet is to get registered in-person with a Volunteer Deputy Registrar. Head here for a list of registration events happening all over town between now and the deadline where you can do just that. Insider tip: There will be free tacos at the drive-thru registration at 4705 Heflin Dr. on Sunday, October 4, from 11 am-2 pm.

Another option is to head here to fill out and print and your vote registration application. (Or pick up a mail-in registration form from any of these locations.) You’ll then need to have your application in the mail and postmarked — make sure to check mail collection times! — by October 5.

I just moved to Austin. Can I register to vote here even if I haven’t updated my address on my ID yet?

Yes. You can get registered at your new address. As long as you have one of these forms of ID to take the polls with you, it’s okay if the address doesn’t match where you are registered.

I am already registered, but I moved within Travis County. Can I update my address online?

Absolutely. Head here.

I have a criminal record/felony. Can I vote?

Yes, you can! As long as you are off probation/parole.

I’m currently experiencing homelessness. How do I get registered and vote?

When filling out your voter registration application, under “residential address,” put where you stay most often or have stayed most recently. It could be an intersection or even something like “the 500 block of East 7th Street,” and include the ZIP code. For mailing address, put where you receive mail: a friend’s house, the Trinity Center, ARCH, etc. (This is also where your voter registration certificate will come.)

When you go to vote, if you don’t have a state-issued ID, you can use your voter registration certificate if it arrives in time, or one of the supporting forms of ID listed here.

You’re registered? Great. Now it’s time to vote.

How should I do it?

Early and in-person, if you can.

When can I vote?

Texans can vote early from Tuesday, October 13, through Friday, October 30. Hours are Monday - Saturday, from 7 am-7 pm and Sundays from noon-6 pm.

On October 28, 29, and 30, six “mega-centers,” including the Austin Central Library, will have extended hours from 7 am to 9 pm. Click here for the full list.

Or you can vote on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, from 7 am-7 pm

Remember, you just need to be in line before the polls close to be able to vote. If you're in line when the polls close, stay in line until you're able to cast your ballot. 

Where do I vote?

Anywhere in Travis County where you see a “Vote Here/Vote Aqui” sign. For a map of early voting locations head here. And here is where you can vote on Election Day.

What do I need to bring with me to vote? Do I need my Voter Registration Certificate to vote?

Your Voter Registration Certificate is a supplemental form of ID, so if you’ve misplaced it (or it hasn’t arrived yet) that’s okay, as long as you’re able to present your Texas' drivers license, a passport, or another one of these acceptable forms of photo ID.

Remember: The address on your ID doesn’t need to match the address where you are registered, but the name on your ID must match the name you are registered under.

Who am I voting for? What’s on my ballot?
Starting soon, you can head here to enter your address and access a “sample ballot” to view exactly who you will be voting for and on. Don’t forget— no phones allowed in the voting booth, so if you want to bring along any notes, make sure to take them the old-fashioned way with paper and pen.

I requested a mail-in ballot, but I decided I want to vote in person instead. Can I do that?

It's complicated, but yes. If you have already received your mail-in ballot, you should bring it with you when you vote in person to surrender it. But even if you haven't received your ballot yet (or at all) you can still cast a provisional ballot in person. Once it's determined your mail-in ballot wasn't received, your in-person vote will be counted.

Can I vote by mail?

It depends. In Texas, you’re eligible to vote by mail if you are registered and also 65 or older; out of Travis County during the entire election period, which includes early voting; sick or disabled; or confined in jail, but eligible to vote. We also highly recommend reading the Texas Tribune's comprehensive guide to mail-in voting for even more information.

I’m eligible and want to vote by mail — now what?

To get a ballot, first you have to apply for one by downloading this form and sending it off to the Travis County Clerk office to be received (not postmarked) by Friday, October 23.

Once your application has been accepted, you will receive your ballot in the mail, which you will need to have filled out and postmarked by Election Day (to be received the day after Election Day) or hand-delivered to one of four drive-thru locations in Travis County.

If you are planning to vote by mail, please head here for a comprehensive explanation, and don’t hesitate to contact the Travis County Elections Division with questions: 512-238-VOTE.