FAQ

The below Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) have been compiled with the November 4, 2014 General and Special Elections in mind. We hope that you will take a moment to review these pages, as you may find the answers to questions of your own. We encourage you to explore our website for more detailed information on elections and voting in Texas. We hope you find this useful, and we appreciate this opportunity to serve you. Note: We have grouped questions and answers in categories and provided links to additional information when needed.

I’m not sure if I’m registered; how can I confirm my voter registration status?

A.

You can confirm your registration status on this website by going to Am I Registered? where you will select one of three methods for conducting your search. You can base your search on: 1. your Voter Unique Identifier (VUID), which appears on your voter registration certificate; 2. your Texas driver's license number, if you provided it when you applied for voter registration; or 3. your first and last name. Or, you can call the voter registrar’s office in the county where you reside. To find the number, review the list of County Voter Registration Officials.

I’m not registered, but want to vote in the November Election; how can I be sure that I’m registered in time to vote?

A.

The deadline to register and be eligible to vote in the November 4, 2014 General Election is October 6, 2014. This can be either the postmark date or the date the application is received in the office of the voter registrar. You may, of course, register at any time before that date to ensure that your registration is effective for voting in November. You can obtain a voter registration application from your voter registrar's office, libraries, most post offices, high schools, or from this office.

If I send my registration by the deadline, what happens next?

A.

Your voter registration becomes effective 30 days after it is submitted (and accepted*) by the county voter registrar. The county office will then put your name on the voter registration list, generate your voter certificate and mail it to you. Once received, be sure to read the information on the back of the certificate, sign by the X on the "front" of the card (the yellow area) and keep your voter card in a safe place.

*If your original application is missing required information, you will receive a notice in the mail and have a deadline to respond to the notice.

I am registered to vote, but I moved this past year. Is there anything I need to do to make sure that I won’t have a problem voting in November?

A.

If you moved within the same county where you are currently registered, you must file the new address information in writing with your voter registrar OR you may submit the "in county" change online.

The last day to make a change of address that will be effective for the November 4, 2014 Election is October 6, 2014. If you missed this deadline, you may return to your old precinct to vote. You will be required to complete a "statement of residence" confirming your new address in your new precinct.

If you moved to a “new county,” you must re-register in your new county of residence by October 6, 2014, to be eligible to vote in the November 4, 2014 Election.

  • Addresses and phone numbers of Voter Registrars

LIMITED BALLOT OPTION: If you have moved to a new county and have not re-registered in the new county by the October 6, 2014 deadline, you may be eligible to vote a limited ballot in your new county. A limited ballot means that you would be allowed to vote on any candidates and measures in common between your former and new county. You may not vote a limited ballot on election day and you must be a current registered voter in your former county in order to qualify. For full information on this procedure, go to Special Forms of Early Voting (PDF). If you feel you qualify to vote a limited ballot, we recommend that you contact the office of the Early Voting Clerk in your new county: Early Voting Clerk for State and County Elections.

I don’t remember seeing my certificate lately. Is that a problem? Don’t I just stay registered?

A.

New certificates are mailed out every two years to the most recent address you gave to the voter registrar. If you do not recall receiving a new orange and white certificate in 2014, it could mean that you have moved without updating, or there is some other problem with your registration. If the certificate was mailed to an old address, it was returned to the registrar, and you were placed on the "suspense list" in that county. This means you have a grace period that allows you to vote in the same county in your old precinct, but If you do not vote, your name will be removed from the rolls after two federal elections have passed since you were placed on the suspense list. If you did not receive your certificate because you moved to a new Texas county, you will need to re-register.

I am reviewing this page and nothing makes sense to me. These are not the rules I have heard. I’m in a state other than Texas-does that matter?

A.

If you are visiting our website from another state, please remember that each state has slightly different rules. These rules describe Texas state law and are intended for voters who consider their permanent home to be in Texas and want to vote a Texas ballot. If you arrived at this page through a search engine and you need another state's election law, check the National Association of Secretaries of State page for other state websites.

What will I need in order to vote in person on election day or during early voting?

A.

When a voter arrives at a polling location, the voter will be asked to present one of the seven (7) acceptable forms of photo ID (listed below). Election officials will now be required by State law to determine whether the voter’s name on the identification provided matches the name on the official list of registered voters (“OLRV”). After a voter presents their ID, the election worker will compare it to the OLRV. If the name on the ID matches the name on the list of registered voters, the voter will follow the regular procedures for voting.

If the name does not match exactly but is “substantially similar” to the name on the OLRV, the voter will be permitted to vote as long as the voter signs an affidavit stating that the voter is the same person on the list of registered voters.

If a voter does not have proper identification, the voter will still be permitted to vote provisionally. The voter will have (six) 6 days to present proper identification to the county voter registrar, or the voter’s ballot will be rejected.

Here is a list of the acceptable forms of photo ID:

  • Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
  • Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
  • United States passport

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the identification must be current or have expired no more than 60 days before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place.

But what if a voter does not have any of these forms of photo ID? Are there any exceptions?

A.

If a voter does not have a permanent disability exemption (addressed below) indicated on his or her voter registration certificate AND the voter does not have any of the photo identifications indicated above at the time of voting, the voter may cast a provisional ballot at the polls. However, in order to have the provisional ballot counted, the voter will be required to visit the voter registrar’s office within six (6) calendar days of the date of the election to either present one of the above forms of photo ID OR submit one of the temporary affidavits addressed below (e.g., religious objection or natural disaster) in the presence of the county voter registrar while attesting to the fact that he or she does not have any of the required photo IDs.

A permanent exemption is available for voters with documented disabilities. Voters with a disability may apply with the county voter registrar for a permanent exemption. The application must contain written documentation from either the U.S. Social Security Administration evidencing the applicant’s disability, or from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs evidencing a disability rating of at least 50 percent. In addition, the applicant must state that he or she has no valid form of photo identification. Those who obtain a disability exemption will be allowed to vote by presenting a voter registration certificate reflecting the exemption.

Affidavits are available for voters who have a consistent religious objection to being photographed and for voters who do not have any photo identification as a result of certain natural disasters as declared by the President of the United States or the Texas Governor within 45 days of the day the ballot was cast.

What does “substantially similar” mean?

A.

A voter’s name is considered substantially similar if one or more of the following circumstances applies:

  1. The name on the ID is slightly different from one or more of the name fields on the official list of registered voters.
  2. The name on the voter’s ID or on the list of registered voters is a customary variation of the voter’s formal name. For example, Bill for William, or Beto for Alberto.
  3. The voter’s name contains an initial, middle name, or former name this is either not on the official list of registered voters or on the voter’s ID.
  4. A first name, middle name, former name or initial of the voter’s name occupies a different field on the presented ID document than it does on the list of registered voters.

In considering whether a name is substantially similar, election officials will also look at whether information on the presented ID matches elements of the voter’s information on the official list of registered voters such as the voter’s residence address or date of birth.

How can I be sure that I’m still on the voter rolls in the county where I reside?

A.

You can check the status of your voter registration by using our search site, where you will select one of three methods for conducting your search. You can base your search on: 1. your Voter Unique Identifier (VUID), which appears on your voter registration certificate; 2. your Texas driver's license number, if you provided it when you applied for voter registration; or 3. your first and last name. Or, you can call the voter registrar’s office in the county where you reside. To find the number, review the list of County Voter Registration Officials.

Who is eligible to vote early? What are the dates for voting early in person?

A.

Any registered voter may vote early by personal appearance (in person). Early voting by personal appearance for the November 4, 2014 Election begins on October 20, 2014 and ends on October 31, 2014. You may vote at any early voting location in your county of registration.

Where do I go to vote?

A.

You will be able to find early voting locations by using our search site Am I Registered?, which will be populated with voting sites a few days before early voting begins. Or, you may want to contact the Early Voting Clerk for State and County Elections in your county. Also, many newspapers publish early voting and election day polling locations, so you might be able to find the information there.

Can anybody vote early by mail (also referred to as “absentee voting”)?

A.

Only specific reasons entitle a registered voter to vote early by mail (no longer called absentee voting). You may request a ballot by mail if you:

  1. will be away from your county on Election Day and during early voting;
  2. are sick or disabled;
  3. are 65 years of age or older on Election Day; or
  4. are confined in jail.

I fall under one of the 4 reasons above. What do I do now? Are there deadlines connected with this procedure?

A.

First, request an Application for Ballot by Mail (ABBM) from the Early Voting Clerk in the political subdivision conducting your election, or from our office. Once received, read the instructions carefully, complete the ABBM form and return it to the Early Voting Clerk. For the November 4, 2014 Election, the first day to submit an ABBM to the early voting clerk is September 5, 2014; the last day (or deadline) to submit an ABBM is October 24, 2014---this is not a postmark date---the ABBM must be received in the office of the early voting clerk by October 24, 2014 in order for you to receive a ballot by mail.

It’s election day, November 4, 2014, and I’m registered and ready to vote and have my identification. Where do I go? What are the hours for voting on election day?

A.

You will be able to find election day voting locations by using our search site Am I Registered?, which will be populated with voting sites the day before Election Day. Or, you may want to contact the elections official in your county of registration election duties. Also, many newspapers publish election day polling locations. The hours of voting on election day are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Does a voter have to vote in the main election in order to vote in a runoff-election?

A.

Section 11.001 of the Texas Election Code prescribes the specific qualifications necessary in order to vote in a Texas election. There is no specific requirement to have previously voted in the main election in order to participate in the subsequent run-off election. Therefore, such a requirement cannot be enforced.

When does the new photo identification law go into effect?

A.
The new photo identification requirement is effective immediately.

What kind of identification will be required to qualify to vote in person under the new program?

A.
A voter will be required to show one of the following forms of photo identification at the polling location before the voter will be permitted to cast a vote.
  • Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
  • Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
  • United States passport

My ID is expired. Will it still work?

A.
With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the identification must be current or have expired no more than 60 days before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place.

But what if a voter does not have any of these forms of photo ID? Are there any exceptions?

A.
If a voter does not have a permanent disability exemption (addressed below) indicated on his or her voter registration certificate AND the voter does not have any of the photo identifications indicated above at the time of voting, the voter may cast a provisional ballot at the polls. However, in order to have the provisional ballot counted, the voter will be required to visit the voter registrar’s office within six calendar days of the date of the election to either present one of the above forms of photo ID OR submit one of the temporary affidavits addressed below (e.g., religious objection or natural disaster) in the presence of the county voter registrar while attesting to the fact that he or she does not have any of the required photo IDs.

A permanent exemption is available for voters with documented disabilities. Voters with a disability may apply with the county voter registrar for a permanent exemption. The application must contain written documentation from either the U.S. Social Security Administration evidencing the applicant’s disability, or from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs evidencing a disability rating of at least 50 percent. In addition, the applicant must state that he or she has no valid form of photo identification. Those who obtain a disability exemption will be allowed to vote by presenting a voter registration certificate reflecting the exemption.

Affidavits are available for voters who have a consistent religious objection to being photographed and for voters who do not have any photo identification as a result of certain natural disasters as declared by the President of the United States or the Texas Governor within 45 days of the day the ballot was cast.

If I have a government-issued ID that contains my photo and it is not on the list above, may I use it?

A.
If you do not have one of the forms of photo IDs listed above and your voter registration certificate does not have a disability exemption noted, you will only be eligible to cast a provisional ballot.

My name on my approved photo ID does not exactly match my name on my voter registration card. Can I still vote?

A.
Election officials will review the ID and if a name is “substantially similar” to the name on their list of registered voters, you will still be able to vote, but you will also have to submit an affidavit stating that you are the same person on the list of registered voters.

Does the new photo ID requirement apply to voting by mail?

A.
The new requirement does not change the process for voting by mail.

Does the address on my photo identification have to match my address on the official list of registered voters at the time of voting?

A.
The new requirement makes no determination on voter address matching criteria; therefore, there is no address matching requirement.

When is the DPS Election Identification Certificate going to be available?

A.
The Election Identification Certificate is now available. Information regarding how to obtain an election identification certificate can be found at www.dps.texas.gov. You may also contact DPS by telephone at (512) 424-2600 for more information.

What happens if I refuse to show proof of identity?

A.
Voters who refuse to show proof of identity will be allowed to vote by provisional ballot. However, please be advised that a refusal to show ID is not a valid ground for casting a provisional ballot, and it is likely that the voter’s ballot will be rejected by the ballot board.

Can anyone vote early, or only those people who are going to be out of town on Election Day? What are the dates for voting early in person?

A.
Any registered voter may vote early in person. To vote early by mail, you must first complete an Application for Ballot by Mail. For complete details, refer to our section "Early Voting."
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Provisional Voting

Provisional voting is designed to allow a voter whose name does not appear on the list of registered voters due to an administrative error to vote. The provisional voting process involves an affidavit that (1) the voter must complete stating the reasons he or she is qualified to vote; and (2) is used if the voter cannot be qualified by the methods described above.

Provisional voting is also designed to allow voters who do not have a permanent exemption or photo identification with them at the polling place to vote. This process requires the voter to visit the voter registrar’s office within six (6) calendar days of the date of the election to either present one of the above forms of photo ID OR submit one of the temporary affidavits (e.g., religious objection or natural disaster) in the presence of the county voter registrar while attesting to the fact that he or she does not have any of the required photo IDs.

Additionally, the cast provisional ballots are kept separately from the regular ballots and the voter’s records will be reviewed by the provisional voting ballot board (the early voting ballot board), to determine if the ballot is to be counted or rejected. Provisional voters will receive a notice in the mail by the 10th day after the local canvass advising them if their provisional ballots were counted, and if they were not counted, the reason why.

Military & Overseas Voters

Please note that registering with a federal post card application (typically used by the military and overseas voters) is now treated as a request for permanent registration. There are also special provisions for military and overseas voters that are available on our website. However, military and overseas voters are welcome to use the regular registration and early voting by mail process available to all voters away from their home county on Election Day.

Voters with Special Needs

Rather than providing sample questions & answers, we are directing you to special needs information on our website to ensure that you are fully informed on the services available to you.

Student Voters

Student voters often seek advice regarding residency issues for voter registration purposes. Information regarding student residency issues is available on this website.

Convicted Felons and Voting

In Texas, a convicted felon regains the right to vote after completing his or her sentence. Therefore, once you have completed the punishment phase (including any term of incarceration, parole, or supervision, or completed a period of probation ordered by the court), you would be eligible to register and vote in the state of Texas.

Liquor Elections

For information on the local option liquor petition and election process in Texas, you may review our office’s educational materials that are posted on our website.

Political Parties

For information on registered political parties in Texas, please contact those organizations directly:

Additional Information

We have information located in various sections of our website – “Candidates” and “Conducting Your Elections” (for election administrators) just to name a few. We have moved voter specific information to our website, votetexas.gov. You will notice that some materials are repeated in different places–our hope is to gear each section to the audience for easier bookmarking and future use.

Thank you. Should you need additional information, please e-mail or call us at 1-800-252-VOTE(8683).