On Nov. 6, Texas voters will decide who will hold several statewide, legislative and congressional seats. To help Texans navigate Election Day, we’ve compiled an overview of everything you need to know about casting a ballot in the 2018 midterms. (And no, you still can’t take a selfie at the polls.)
If you share your address below, we’ll personalize this piece for you, showing the races you get to participate in and which county you need to work with. (Don’t worry! We’re not storing this information — just determining which districts and county you live in.)
Whom do I get to vote for?
Aside from statewide races decided by all Texans, who you get to vote for depends on where you live. On the federal level, Texans are divided among 36 U.S. House districts. On the state level, your address determines your district — and who represents you — in the Texas House, the Texas Senate and on the State Board of Education. All U.S. House and Texas House districts are up for election this year, but only half of Texas Senate and State Board of Education seats are on the ballot.
If you share your address above, we can show you the 2018 general election candidates for each of your districts. Otherwise, you can view our roundup of all the candidates here.
Your statewide candidates
Fourteen of the races on all Texans’ general election ballots this year will be for statewide positions. This includes the race to decide who — in addition to John Cornyn — will represent the state in the U.S. Senate. Seven statewide races include executive positions such as governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, and six are for the state’s two highest courts — the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals.
|L||Michael Ray Harris|
|R||George P. BushIncumbent|
|D||Maria T. (Terri) Jackson|
|L||William Bryan Strange III|
|R||Barbara Parker HerveyIncumbent|
Your local candidates
You might have noticed that we’ve not said anything about elections for local positions such as sheriff. Because local elections are administered at the county level, there’s no statewide listing of all local races. The Texas secretary of state’s office maintains a list of county websites you can reference to learn more about what is on the ballot locally. Your local newspapers or TV stations might also have candidate listings, and the nonpartisan League of Women Voters may also have local ballot information for select cities.
Get to know the candidates
Now that you know who you can vote for, find out where they stand on the issues. Watch candidates go head to head in a virtual debate in our video series, Split Decision. Or see how candidates in statewide and competitive U.S. House races responded to our candidate survey in their own words. The survey was inspired by the issues that matter most to young Texans, including student loan debt, DACA, school gun violence and more.
What dates do I need to know?
Election Day was
Are polling locations the same on Election Day as they are during early voting?
No, they are not. That’s why it’s important to find your polling locations ahead of time. While a few counties might have exceptions, you may be allowed to vote only in your designated precinct.
Early voting ran from through
Where am I allowed to vote early?
You can find early voting locations at the same website that allows you to check whether you are registered to vote. Unlike on Election Day, you are allowed to vote early at any polling location in the county you are registered to vote in.
Who is eligible to vote early?
Anyone who is registered to vote may vote early. However, you must do so in person. Only certain voters can mail in their ballots.
Applications to apply for ballot by mail had to be received by
How do I know if I’m eligible to vote by mail?
- You will not be in your county on Nov. 6 (Election Day) and not in your county during the entire span of early voting
- 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).
Eligible Texans who want to vote by mail have two options: They can mail in their ballot — postmarked by Election Day and received by 5 p.m. the day after the election — or they can give their ballot directly to an early voting clerk. To vote by mail, your application must be received by the Early Voting Clerk in your county by Oct. 26.
The last day to register to vote was
Is there a way to confirm whether I’m registered to vote?
Yes, there is! You can check your registration status on the Texas secretary of state’s website by using one of these three ways to log on:
- Providing your Texas driver’s license number and date of birth
- Providing your first and last name and what county you reside in
- Providing your date of birth and Voter Unique Identifier (VUID), which appears on your voter registration certificate.
How can I register to vote?
Texans can fill out an application in person at their county voter registrar’s office. Most post offices, libraries and high schools also provide the necessary applications needed to cast a ballot. Texans can also print out the application online or request it through the mail.
However, keep in mind that registering online is not an option in Texas. Mailed applications must be postmarked on or before the Oct. 9 deadline.
What do I need to know about going to vote?
Where can I cast my ballot, and how can I find which polling places are near me?
Using the same website that allows you to check whether you're registered, you can also find polling location options on Election Day and during the early voting period. During the early voting period, voters can cast ballots at any location in the county they are registered to vote in.
Can I wear my “Beto for Senate” or “Cruz for Senate” shirt to the polls?
No. Doing so constitutes electioneering, which is illegal in Texas.
Voters who are caught wearing campaign gear to the polls may get asked to turn their shirts inside out or to put on a jacket. Refusal to do so could result in being turned away from the polls.
Under Texas law, a person “may not electioneer for or against any candidate, measure, political party” within 100 feet of the voting site during early voting or on Election Day.
What form of ID do I need to bring?
You can see more details about the acceptable forms of ID in this Texplainer, but here’s a summary.
Voting in Texas requires a valid photo ID. Polling places accept seven types of photo ID:
- A state driver’s license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- A Texas election identification certificate (issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety)
- A Texas personal identification card (issued by DPS)
- A Texas license to carry a handgun (issued by DPS)
- A U.S. military ID card that includes a personal photo
- A U.S. citizenship certificate that includes a personal photo
- A U.S. passport
What if I don’t have a valid photo ID?
Voters who do not have any of those documents and cannot “reasonably obtain” them can still cast a vote if they sign a form in which they swear that they have a “reasonable impediment” from obtaining appropriate identification. Those voters will also have to present one of the following types of ID:
- A valid voter registration certificate
- A certified birth certificate
- A copy or original of a 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).
This story is part of our Texplainer series, where we collect questions from readers like you. Over the years, we've learned a lot from your smart questions — and we want to make it easier for you to ask us questions about state politics, policy and government. To get started, send us your questions about Texas politics and policy by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting texastribune.org/texplainer.
About the data
Shapes of the U.S. House, State Board of Education, Texas Senate and Texas House districts, historical election results and demographic data were provided by the Texas Legislative Council.
Candidate information was sourced from the Texas Secretary of State, Texas Democratic Party, the Republican Party of Texas, the Libertarian Party of Texas and additionally through Texas Tribune research.
Information regarding the voting process was collected from the Texas Secretary of State and sourced from Texas Tribune reporting.
Darla Cameron and Elbert Wang contributed to this story.