This Week in Texas: Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Posted January 29, 2020 in The Mignon Memo

Election Results:  January 28 Special Runoff Elections in the Texas House

Results are in for the three special runoff elections for vacated seats in the Texas House.  The race for Fort Bend County’s House District 28 has been the most anticipated election this cycle and garnered national attention.  In the end, Republican Gary Gates defeated Democrat Eliz Markowitz by 16 percentage points, 58% to 42%, and will finish the term of former Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond).

In Dallas County’s heavily Democratic House District 100, community advocate Lorraine Birabil was victorious over businessman James Armstrong III with 66% of the vote, and will finish the term of now-Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.  And in Harris County’s House District 148, Democrat and former Houston ISD trustee Anna Eastman defeated Republican power engineer Luis LaRotta with 65% of the vote; she will fill the seat of former Representative Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) for the remainder of her term.

The winners of these three special elections will serve out the year as members of the Texas House of Representatives, but will have to defend their seats in the March primary and the November general election in order to win a full term, which begins in January 2021.

Voting in Texas on Super Tuesday:  Everything you need to know

Texas voters will head to the polls March 3 to select their major party candidates for several statewide races and legislative seats.  Here’s an overview of everything Texans need to know about casting a ballot in the 2020 primaries.

Who is on the ballot?

All Texans’ ballots will include the statewide races, but the rest of the races on your ballot will be determined by where you live.  On the federal level, Texans are divided among 36 congressional districts.  On the state level, Texans are divided into 150 House districts, 31 Senate districts and 15 State Board of Education districts.  Your address determines your district and who represents you.  All congressional and Texas House districts are up for election this year, along with one U.S. Senate seat, several Texas Senate seats and eight State Board of Education seats.

Your local elections

 Each of Texas’ 254 counties administers its own elections on races that range from county commissioner seats to district attorneys.  Information about what’s on the ballot in specific counties can be found on the list of county websites maintained by the Texas Secretary of State’s office.  Voters can also find local ballot information or candidate listings on the websites for the nonpartisan League of Women Voters or local newspapers or TV stations.

Your statewide candidates

 The primary election ballots in Texas consist of races for 10 statewide positions, including the race to determine who will represent the state in the U.S. Senate alongside Sen. Ted Cruz. The remaining races are for railroad commissioner and eight seats on the state’s two highest courts — the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals.

What dates do I need to know?

 The last day to register to vote is February 3.

Is there a way to confirm whether I’m registered to vote?

The Texas secretary of state’s website will tell you whether you’re registered if you log in one of these three ways:

  • Provide your Texas driver’s license number and date of birth
  • Provide your first and last names and the name of the county in which you reside
  • Provide your date of birth and Voter Unique Identifier (VUID), which appears on your voter registration certificate

Check if you’re registered to vote here.

How can I register to vote?

You’ll need to fill out a voter registration application at least 30 days before the election.  You can request the application through the mail or find one at county voter registrar’s offices, post offices, government offices or high schools.  While you can’t register to vote online in Texas, you can print out the application online and mail it to the voter registrar in your county.  Applications must be postmarked by the February 3 deadline.  Download an application here.

The last day to apply for a ballot by mail is February 21.

How do I know if I’m eligible to vote by mail?

You are only allowed to vote by mail for one of the following four reasons:

  • You will not be in your county election day (March 3) or the entire span of early voting (February 18-28).
  • You are sick or disabled.
  • You will be 65 years old or older by election day.
  • You are confined in jail but otherwise eligible (i.e., not convicted of a felony).

The early voting clerk in your county must receive your application to vote by mail by February 21.  Eligible voters will either need to make sure the ballot is postmarked by election day or received by an early voting clerk by 5 p.m. March 4.  Download an application to vote by mail here.

Early voting runs from February 18 to February 28.

Where am I allowed to vote early?

Voters can cast ballots at any polling location in the county where they are registered to vote.  Early voting locations can be found on the Texas secretary of state’s website two days before early voting begins.

Who is eligible to vote early?

Anyone who is registered to vote may vote early, but it must be done in person unless you qualify to vote by mail.

Election day is March 3.

Are polling locations the same on election day as they are during early voting?

Not always.  It’s recommended to check the open polling locations in your area before you head to cast your ballot.  With some exceptions, election day voting may be restricted to locations in your designated precinct.

What do I need to know about going to vote?

How can I find which polling places are near me?

The secretary of state’s website has information on polling location options on election day and during the early voting period.

What form of ID do I need to bring?

You’ll need one of seven types of valid photo ID to vote in Texas:

  • A state driver’s license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • A Texas election identification certificate (issued by DPS)
  • A Texas personal identification card (issued by DPS)
  • A Texas license to carry a handgun (issued by DPS)
  • A U.S. military ID card with a personal photo
  • A U.S. citizenship certificate with a personal photo
  • A U.S. passport

What if I don’t have a valid photo ID?

Voters can still cast votes if they sign a form swearing that they have a “reasonable impediment” from obtaining a proper photo ID.  However, those voters will also have to present one of the following types of identification:

  • A valid voter registration certificate
  • A certified birth certificate
  • A copy of or an original current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other document that shows the voter’s name and address.  (Any government document that contains a voter’s photo must be an original.)

Only in Austin…

For those looking to add some ink, the Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival takes place this weekend in Austin at Palmer Events Center.  The festival features skilled tattoo artists and performance art to give audiences a unique balance of entertainment and education.  Tattoo contests (such as Tattoo of the Day), seminars on tattoo art history, form and meaning and family friendly entertainment will all be on the agenda.  A list of attending tattoo artists can be found at the link above.