Everything you need to know about voting

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Consider this as one of your final calls to action to make your voices heard. It is time to VOTE, as if your life depended on it. In order to change the current state of this declining America, everyone must do their part and vote in the upcoming election in order to get the right people IN…and the wrong people OUT!

“We are all watching what is going on right now and it is up to us to help decide the direction of our country, cities and states. If we believe things need to be different, we need to be involved in choosing who is going to lead that change going forward,” Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins told African-American News&Issues in a previous interview. “Beyond all that, we all know that people of color — our ancestors — fought for our right to vote and we need to honor their legacy by exercising our constitutional right to do so.”

Texas Sevretary of State Ruth Hughs is encouraging all Texans to get out and vote.

“An active and engaged citizenry plays an essential role in ensuring the continued well-being of our democracy,” said Hughs. “Ahead of the November election, I encourage all eligible Texans who have not already done so to register to vote by October 5th so that they can help shape the future of the Lone Star State.”

As of this month, there are 16,617,436 registered voters in Texas — a new state record.

Texans should begin by checking their registration status on the SOS website on the “Am I Registered?” page.

But what about the controversy over the mail-in ballots and voter fraud conspiracies, as claimed by President Donald Trump?

Most elected officials are basically dismissing those claims, saying their states are ready and there is no cause for concern. And even the Trump supporters, are seemingly moving forward to assure their constituents that the voting process will be safe, fair and secure.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation this week enhancing ballot security protocols for the in-person delivery of marked mail ballots for the November 3rd election. Under the proclamation, beginning on October 2, mail ballots that are delivered in person by voters who are eligible to vote by mail must be delivered to a single early voting clerk’s office location as publicly designated by a county’s early voting clerk.

“The State of Texas has a duty to voters to maintain the integrity of our elections,” said Governor Abbott. “As we work to preserve Texans’ ability to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic, we must take extra care to strengthen ballot security protocols throughout the state. These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at illegal voting.”

The proclamation also requires early voting clerks to allow poll watchers to observe any activity conducted at the early voting clerk’s office location related to the in-person delivery of a marked mail ballot. This proclamation amends a July 27th proclamation that extended the period in which marked mail-in ballots may be delivered in person.

Requests for absentee and mail-in ballots have increased across the country as states have adjusted their policies to give voters a safe alternative to voting in person amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

DO YOU KNOW YOUR RIGHTS?

We’ve put together a helpful guide in an effort to help answer any questions you may have.

In Texas

MAIL-IN BALLOTS

Only eligible voters can request a mail-in ballot, with an acceptable excuse. The last day to request one is Oct. 23. Your ballot needs to be postmarked on or before Nov. 3 in order to count, and it needs to arrive by Nov. 4.

EARLY VOTING

Early voting by personal appearance for the Nov 3 election begins on Oct 13 and ends on Oct 30. You may vote at any early voting location in your county of registration. 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.

SAME-DAY REGISTRATION

Your application must be received in the Voter Registrar’s office or postmarked at least 30 days before an election.

VOTER ID REQUIREMENTS

If the voter possesses, but did not bring with them, an acceptable form of photo ID, 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 county voter registrar’s office within six calendar days of the date of the election and present an acceptable form of photo ID.

ACCEPTABLE FORMS OF IDENTIFICATION

Make sure you are ready on Election Day with the appropriate forms of identification, listed below:

FEDERAL

  • US Military Identification Card
  • US Citizenship Certificate
  • US Passport

STATE

  • Texas Driver’s License
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate
  • Texas Personal Identification Card
  • Texas Handgun License

LOCAL/OTHER:

Supporting Form of ID: Copy or Original Current Utility Bill

Copy or original of a government document that shows the voter’s name and an address, including the voter’s voter registration certificate, copy of or original bank statement, copy of or original government check, copy of or original paycheck, copy of or original of (a) a certified domestic (from a US state or territory) birth certificate or (b) a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law that establishes the voter’s identity (which may include a foreign birth document).

PRECAUTIONS DURING THE PANDEMIC

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.
  • Utilize curbside voting if you’re exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and are eligible.
  • Bring your own pen, pencil with eraser or stylus and hand sanitizer.
  • 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.

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.

It’s time to make a difference. VOTE ON ELECTION DAY.