Answers to Common Questions
Who may register to vote in Texas?
Any United States citizen residing in Texas who:
- Is at least 18 years old on Election Day;
- Has not been finally convicted of a felony, or if a prior felon, has completed all punishment (including any term of incarceration, parole, supervision, or period of probation), or has received a pardon; and
- Has not been declared mentally incompetent by a court of law.
How do I register to vote?
- By mail: Request an application from your local voter registration office.
- In person: At the Department of Public Safety (Drivers License) Office, Public Library, Post Office, or any state agency that provides public assistance.
- Online: Use a computer and go to: votetexas.gov/register-to-vote.
Within 30 days of sending in your application, you will receive your voter registration card in the mail.
Where can I get a registration form to mail in or register to vote in person?
Registration forms look like postcards. They are available in many languages. They are available at the following places:
- All Department of Public Safety offices (where you go to get a driver’s license)
- All county voter registrar offices (In most counties, the office is part of the county tax assessor- collector’s office, but in some counties, it is part of the county clerk or elections administrator’s office. You can ask the county courthouse for the office location.)
- The Secretary of State’s Office (or call them at 1-800-252-8683)
- Public libraries
- Many post offices
- Many high schools
- On the internet at: http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/req vr.shtml
- Any office of Disability Rights Texas (call 1-800-252-9108 to find the nearest agency office)
- Any office of a state agency that provides public assistance (Department of Transportation, Texas Workforce Commission, Local Workforce Center – One Stop)
- Any office that provides state-funded programs that help people with disabilities (Department of Aging and Disability Services, Department of State Health Services, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, etc.)
The offices that have the registration forms must also help you complete the forms, unless you refuse assistance.
In addition, political parties, activists groups, and private citizens can give out application forms. If they do, they must help you register, too, whether or not you agree with their politics or point of view.
Are there other ways to vote besides going to the polling place on election day?
In addition to voting in person on Election Day, you can vote in these ways:
- Annual application for ballot by mail: Voters with disabilities may apply for an annual application for ballot by mail. Voters who choose the annual option will receive a mail ballot for all elections held during a calendar year. Annual applications may be submitted starting January 1, but not later than 11 days before Election Day.
- Regular application for ballot by mail: Voters with disabilities who do not request an annual ballot by mail application may submit an application for a single election starting January 1, but not later than 11 days before Election Day.
To apply to vote by mail, call the Office of the Secretary of State at 1-800-252-8683 or complete the application at http://tinyurl.com/TxVoteMail.
- Early voting: You can vote early in person at any polling place in your county. Early voting begins 17 days before an election and ends four days before an election.
- Curbside voting: If you are physically unable to enter a polling place or stand in line to vote, you can ask an election official to bring your ballot to your vehicle or to the entrance of the polling place. You can vote curbside during early voting or on Election Day. TIP FOR VOTER WITH DISABILITY: If you plan to go alone to vote curbside, it is wise to call ahead so election officials will expect you. Generally speaking, you may vote curbside during the early voting period (the 17th day before Election Day until the 4th day before Election Day) or on Election Day. For a May uniform election date or resulting runoff election, the early voting period is the 12th day before Election Day until the 4th day before Election Day.
If I am registering by mail, do I need to send anything else in besides the form?
No, not unless this is the first time you have registered to vote. First-time voters must also send in a photocopy of identification along with their registration form. Acceptable ID includes: A driver’s license; bank statement; utility bill; paycheck; or other government document that shows your name and address.
Note: If you chose not to send in a copy of identification when registering to vote as a first time voter, you will be required to show identification at the polls when you go to vote for the first time.
What is the deadline to register to vote for an upcoming election?
- You must register 30 days before an election to be eligible to vote in that election.
- If you are registering by mail, your application form must be postmarked at least 30 days before the election.
What if I have a disability and can’t leave the house?
- You can either register by mail, or
- If an agency is providing you with services in your home, and if they offer voter registration services, they must provide those voter registration services at your home.
What if I am staying in a hospital or other institution that is not in my home county?
If you reside in an institution, or somewhere else that is not in the same county as your permanent address, you can register to vote by mail in the county where your permanent address is. Then you can vote at your current residence with a vote-by-mail ballot. (See handout on Alternative Voting Options.)
What if I need help to register?
Anyone of your choice can help you register. Anyone you choose may fill out the registration card for you, in your presence. If you cannot sign you name, you may have a “witness” sign on your behalf. If you can make a mark of any kind, do so, in the signature line. Have your “witness” sign and date their name under the signature line, to indicate that they acted as your witness.
Is there a way to find out if I am already registered to vote?
You can call the Secretary of State’s office at 1.800.252.8683: This is the same number you would call to request an application by mail or to seek answers to any voting related question.
What happens after I register?
- Once you submit a voter registration application, a voter registration certificate (proof of registration) will be mailed to you within 30 days.
- Voter Registration Certificate – Check your certificate to be sure all information is correct. If there is a mistake, make corrections and return it to the voter registrar immediately.
- When you go to the polls to vote, present your certificate as proof of registration. Remember, if you did not present identification when registering to vote as a first-time voter, the poll worker will also ask you to show identification along with your certificate.
- If you do not have your certificate you may vote without it by signing an affidavit at the polling place and showing some other form of identification (driver’s license, birth certificate, copy of electric bill).
- If you lose your certificate, notify your county Voter Registrar in writing to receive a new one.
- You will automatically receive a new certificate every two years, if you haven’t moved from the address at which you are registered.
What do I bring when I vote?
You must have ONE of the following current forms of identification when you vote:
- Texas Drivers License or ID
- Texas Election Identification Certificate
- Texas Handgun License
- U.S. Military ID
- U.S. Citizenship Certificate with photo
- U.S. Passport
How do I make changes to my voter registration certificate?
If you move within the same county, promptly notify the Voter Registrar, in writing, of your new address by:
- Correcting your current voter registration certificate on the back and returning it to the Voter Registrar;
- Filling out a new voter registration application form and checking the “change” box;
- Making simultaneous changes to your driver’s license and voter registration when you apply for or update your driver’s license;
- Request changes to your name and/or address on your voter registration card online at www.texasonline.state.tx.us/NASApp/SOS/SOSACManager; or
- Contact any of the designated voter registration offices.
You will receive a new certificate with your new address. You will be able to vote in your new precinct 30 days after your change of address is submitted.
If you move to another county:
- You must re-register! Fill out a new application and mail it, or take it in person, to the Voter Registrar of your new county, or register in any way that is listed above. You will be registered 30 days after your application is submitted. You will receive a new certificate.
If you have a name change:
- Promptly notify the Voter Registrar, in writing, of the change using the same steps as for HOW TO MAKE CHANGES TO A VOTER REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE.
- You will receive a new certificate 30 days after your name change notice is submitted.
- You may continue to vote during this period. If you do not have your certificate in hand, you may sign an affidavit at the polls and present a form of identification.