Texas voters will soon head to the polls — from Oct. 13 to Oct. 30 for early voting and on Election Day, Nov. 3 — for the 2020 general election. Here’s an overview of everything Texans need to know about casting a ballot in the election.
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In general, polling locations will have guidelines in place for social distancing and regular cleaning. Several counties will offer pens or other devices so voters avoid direct contact with election machines. Poll workers will likely be wearing face masks and other protective equipment, but masks will not be required for voters, though health officials still recommend wearing masks. (Most Texas counties remain under a statewide order to wear face masks in businesses or other buildings open to the public, as well as outdoor public spaces, whenever social distancing is not possible.)What precautions should I take?
The Texas secretary of state’s office has provided a checklist of health protocols for voters, including:
- Maintain six feet of separation from others, especially from individuals age 65 and older.
- Self-screen for any new or worsening signs or possible symptoms of COVID-19.
Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, a headache, a sore throat, a loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100 degrees, or known close contact with a person who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19.
- Utilize curbside voting if you’re exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and are eligible.
Contact your county elections office about the curbside voting process and to determine eligibility.
- Bring your own pen, pencil with eraser or stylus and hand sanitizer.
Contact your county elections office to determine what marking devices are appropriate.
- Wash or disinfect hands upon entering and leaving a polling station, as well as after any interaction with people or voting equipment.
- Consider wearing a cloth face covering or face mask if available.
Be prepared to lower or remove your face covering when checking in at a polling place if the election judge is unable to determine your identity while verifying your photo ID.
- If you contract COVID-19 or another sickness that prevents you from appearing at the polling place after the deadline to submit an application for a ballot by mail, contact your county election officer. You may be able to submit an “Application for Emergency Early Voting Ballot Due to Sickness or Physical Disability.”
Click here for a more detailed checklist and list of COVID-19 symptoms.Can I still vote if I have been diagnosed with COVID-19?
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are exhibiting symptoms, consider requesting an emergency mail-in ballot or using curbside voting.
Tell us your voting story
Have you run into hurdles or problems while trying to vote in Texas? We want your help in reporting on those challenges. Learn more.
Emergency mail-in ballot: Emergency mail-in ballots can be requested in person on or after the third day before the election and until 5 p.m. on Election Day. To qualify, you must have a certified doctor’s note. Your ballot must be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted. Contact your county elections office for more details about an emergency mail-in ballot due to sickness or disability.
Curbside voting: You should contact your county elections office to determine if you’re eligible for curbside voting. When you head out to vote, be sure to call the office ahead of time to let them know you are coming.
All Texans’ ballots will include the presidential race and statewide races, but the rest of the contests will be determined by where you live. See which districts are competitive based on the Tribune’s analysis of each district’s voting record in statewide elections.
If you shared your address, we’ll show you the races in which you get to participate and help you find a sample ballot. You can also view our roundup of all the candidates here.
We’ve highlighted the most interesting and competitive ★Races to Watch and whether the Democrats are trying to flip this race DEM TARGET or the Republicans are trying to flip this race GOP TARGET.
Your district-level races
At the federal level, Texans are divided among 36 congressional districts. At 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.
Enter your address to see your district-level races.
Your local elections
Each of Texas’ 254 counties administers its own elections on races that range from county commissioner seats to district attorneys, so we don’t have a list of every local race on the ballot. However, 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 typically can also find local ballot information or candidate listings on the websites for the nonpartisan League of Women Voters or their local newspapers or TV stations.
Your statewide races
Along with the U.S. presidential race and local appointments, the electoral ballots in Texas contain races for 10 statewide positions, including the race to determine who will represent the state in the U.S. Senate alongside 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.
Your county elections office. You can enter your address and we’ll pull up the right contact information here. Otherwise, you’ll likely find the contact information on your county’s website — the Texas secretary of state’s office maintains a list of county websites.
Ask your county elections office about mail-in voting specifics, like whether the county is proactively sending applications for mail-in ballots to registered voters and when mail-in ballots will be sent out. Some counties are also paying postage required to return mail-in ballots, while others are not.
You can also call the Texas secretary of state at 1 (800) 252-8683 or send an email.
About the data
Historical election results and the shapes of the U.S. House, State Board of Education, Texas Senate and Texas House districts were provided by the Texas Legislative Council.
Candidate information and information regarding the voting process were sourced from the Texas secretary of state and through Texas Tribune research.
Disclosure: The Texas secretary of state’s office has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
Illustrations by Emily Albracht. Chris Essig contributed to this report.