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Voting in Texas Primaries: What to Expect

A Texas Voting Booth
A Texas Voting Booth

Voting in the Texas primaries is very easy and simple, here’s some things you should expect along with a little information about how it works.

There are going to be a lot of voters with certain issues in mind when heading to the polls, and the best way to get those issues some traction is to ensure they’re being talked about not just in the general election, but the primaries as well. Voting is one of the most effective means of getting an issue considered.

The Statistics

Roughly 7 percent of those eligible to vote, give or take at times, turns out to participate in the primaries every two years. About 70 percent of those voters vote in the Republican primary, the other 30 percent participate in the Democratic primary.

This means that the impact of a vote is much more substantial in the primaries, and can often decide the winner in the general election due to the immense number of seats that are typically already wrapped up by one party or another.

Registering to Vote

Registering to vote is free and can be fairly simple. You need to obtain a voter registration card, which can be found at your local elections office, fill it out, and drop it in the mail. Mailing these cards does not cost you anything, the postage is paid for.

You could also attend any local political event where there are likely voter registrars, and those people can also register you to vote.

If you are a convicted felon who has completed all aspects of your case, including probation, fines, etc then in most cases you are eligible to vote.

To find out the details specific to you for registering to vote, click here.

The deadline to register for any election is a month prior to that election. Texas primaries are held the first Tuesday of March. So for example, the deadline to register for the 2016 primaries is Monday, February 1.

If you fail to register before that date, you will not be able to participate in the primaries, however you will be able to vote in the general election held in November.

After registering, you’ll receive a voter registration card in the mail with your details.

Polling Places and Early Voting

Based on where you live, you will have a designated polling place that you’ll be required to vote at on election day.

There’s an easier way though, and that is to early vote. This means that you may vote during the two week period before the primary at one of your county’s polling places. This gives you extra flexibility in deciding when to vote, and less concern about going to the wrong polling place.

Voting on election day can result in waiting through long lines, and if something comes up, you might not be able to make it out to vote.

By early voting, there are rarely any lines to wait through, making the experience quick and easy. This also holds true for the general election as well.

If you have questions about where and when to vote, click here.

Voting

Voting in the primaries is slightly different than the general election.

Once you get to your polling place you will have to present a picture ID, typically a driver’s license or state issued identification card. Other forms of acceptable ID are listed here.

While you can bring your voter registration card, it is entirely unnecessary because everything they need can be obtained from your ID.

After establishing your identification, you’ll then be asked for which party’s primary you intend to participate in.

You’ll first be asked to declare which party’s primary you wish to vote in. This can either be Democratic or Republican. You may only vote in one though, but it is only for that year. Texas has an open primary system, so you do not need to be registered with a party in order to participate in that party’s primary.

This does not require that you vote for that party’s candidates at any point in the future either. Your only legal obligation is that you do not participate in another party’s primary, caucus, or convention for that year.

Once you have picked a primary you’ll be given a slip of paper with a number on it. You then head to a booth, input your number, and begin the process of voting. Most voting machines you’ll typically use a wheel to navigate through the choices.

If at any point you have a question about how to operate the machine, one of the poll workers will assist you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you have a question. However, they cannot answer any questions other than how to operate the machine.

You are also allowed to bring voting materials into the booth with you. It’s always a good idea to have a list of the candidates you want to vote for written down on a piece of paper that you can reference. It is against the law to brandish electronic objects which are able to take pictures or record audio, so stick to paper.

After going through the ballot and looking over your selections to ensure they’re correct, you’ll hit the cast ballot button, then leave the booth.

As you walk out they’ll offer you a little sticker that says “I Voted” that you can either accept or decline.

I Voted

That’s it, congratulations, you just participated in the Texas primaries.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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