FAQ

The below Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) have been compiled with the November 8, 2016 General Election in mind. We hope that you will take a moment to review these pages, as you may find the answers to your questions. 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.

I’m not registered, but want to vote in the November 8, 2016 General 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 8, 2016 election is October 11, 2016. 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, and high schools. You can also fill out a voter registration application online or request a postage-paid application be mailed to you.

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 blue 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 8, 2016 Election is October 11, 2016. If you missed this deadline, you may return to your old precinct to vote, if you still live in the political subdivision holding the election. If you moved within the county, you will have to go back to the precinct in which you are currently registered (your “old” precinct), and, at that location, you will be required to complete a "statement of residence" confirming your new address. This will act to update your registration information for the future. You will then be allowed to vote a regular ballot as long as you are otherwise eligible. If you moved to a “new county,” you must re-register in your new county of residence by October 11, 2016, to be eligible to vote in the November 8, 2016 Election (unless you are eligible to vote a “limited ballot,” see below). LIMITED BALLOT OPTION: If you have moved to a new county and have not re-registered in the new county by the October 11, 2016 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. This procedure is only available during the early voting period at the main early voting polling place; you may NOT vote a limited ballot on election day. You must be a current registered voter in your former county in order to qualify OR you must have been registered in your old county at the time you submitted a voter registration application in your new county, if you have done so. For full information on this procedure (including the by-mail option, if qualified to vote by mail), 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.

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 blue and white certificate in 2015, 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 would have been returned to the registrar as the certificate is not forwardable mail, and you would have been 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 if a voter does not possess any of the acceptable forms of photo ID? Are there any exceptions?

A.

If a voter does not possess an acceptable form of photo ID, and cannot obtain one due to a reasonable impediment, as noted in the answer to the question above, the voter may still cast a regular ballot by presenting a supporting form of ID and executing a Reasonable Impediment Declaration, noting the voter’s reasonable impediment to obtaining an acceptable form of photo ID, and stating that the voter is the same person as the person on the presented form of supporting form of ID. If a voter has continued access to their acceptable form of photo ID, but, for example, forgets to bring their acceptable form of approved photo ID to the polling place and/or left it, for example, at home or in their car, the voter still possesses the acceptable photo ID and must use it to vote.

Here is a list of supporting forms of ID:

  • Valid voter registration certificate
  • Certified birth certificate (must be an original)
  • Copy of or original current utility bill
  • Copy of or original bank statement
  • Copy of or original government check
  • Copy of or original paycheck
  • Copy of or original government document with your name and an address (original required if it contains a photograph)

A permanent exemption is available for voters with documented disabilities who have not obtained one of the acceptable forms of photo ID. 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 acceptable photo ID. Those who obtain a disability exemption will be allowed to vote by presenting a voter registration certificate reflecting the exemption.

If a voter (a) does not possess one of the acceptable forms of photo identification listed below, which is not expired for more than four years, and a voter can reasonably obtain one of these forms of identification or (b) possesses, but did not bring to the polling place, one of the seven forms of acceptable photo identification listed above, which is not expired for more than four years, or (c) does not possess one of the seven forms of acceptable photo identification, which is not expired for more than four years, could otherwise not obtain one due to a reasonable impediment, but did not bring a supporting form of identification to the polling place, 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 below forms of photo ID OR submit one of the temporary affidavits referenced above (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 OR submit the required paperwork and sign the required statement to qualify for a permanent disability exemption as referenced above, in the presence of the county voter registrar, while attesting to the fact that he or she does not have any of the seven (7) acceptable forms of photo IDs, in order for the provisional ballot to count.

Affidavits are available for voters who have a consistent religious objection to being photographed and for voters who do not present a form of acceptable 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 on the identification provided 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 but it is either not on the official list of registered voters or on the voter’s ID or is different on those documents.
  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, 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.

My registration status says Suspense; what does this mean?

A.
Suspense means that the registrar is not certain of your residential address.  If the registrar has reason to believe that a voter's current residence is different from that indicated on the registration records, then the registrar shall deliver to the voter a written confirmation notice requesting confirmation of the voter's current residence.  When a Notice of Address Confirmation is sent, the voter automatically is put on suspense.  As a common practice, a Notice of Address Confirmation is sent (and an individual is placed on suspense) when:
  1. The voter’s registration certificate has been returned as non-deliverable;
  2. A Jury Summons is returned as non-deliverable; or
  3. Any mailing that was sent to the voter was returned as non-deliverable.
  4. The voter registrar has received information indicating the voter no longer resides at the address on the voter’s record.

Will I still be allowed to vote if my status is listed as Suspense?

A.
Yes.  A voter whose status is on suspense is eligible to vote in an election provided that the voter completes a Statement of Residence either when voting by mail or at the polls prior to voting (within the same county as the voter’s current registration) or (if the voter has moved to a new county) completes a Limited Ballot application during Early Voting at the main early voting polling place. A voter on Suspense who has moved within the same county would be allowed to vote on Election Day by returning to the precinct in which the voter previously resided and completing a Statement of Residence at that time.  A voter may also complete a Voter Registration Application to update his/her address prior the Registration Cutoff deadline for any election and send the newly updated application to the Voter Registrar in the county in which the voter resides.

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 the hours that early voting is conducted;
  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. You may also print an ABBM directly from our website (PDF), (Spanish version (PDF). Once received, read the instructions carefully, complete the ABBM form and return it to the Early Voting Clerk. For the November 8, 2016 Election date, the last day to apply for an ABBM to the early voting clerk is October 28, 2016; in order for you to receive a ballot by mail; the last day (or deadline) to submit a marked ballot (not a postmark date) must be received in the office of the early voting clerk by November 8, Election Day (unless cast from overseas).

It’s election day, November 8, 2016, and I’m registered and ready to vote and have what I need to bring to the polls. 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 a few days before election day. Or, you may want to contact the Early Voting Clerk for State and County Elections in your county. 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.
No.  Section 11.001 of the Texas Election Code prescribes the specific qualifications necessary in order to vote in a Texas election.  There is no requirement to have previously voted in the main election in order to participate in the subsequent run-off election.

When do the identification procedures go into effect?

A.
The identification procedures are effective immediately.

Do I need to bring my voter certificate/card? Will I be able to vote without it?

A.

While you do not need to bring your voter registration certificate with you to vote, we highly recommend that you have it with you at the polling place. In some situations, having your voter registration certificate will allow you to vote a regular ballot instead of a provisional ballot. For example, if you do not possess one of the seven (7) acceptable forms of identification, and you cannot obtain one due to a reasonable impediment, you can use your valid voter registration certificate as a form of supporting identification when you execute your Reasonable Impediment Declaration, and vote a regular ballot. As another example, if your name does not appear on the official list of registered voters in the precinct, you may be able to cast a regular ballot by presenting your valid voter registration certificate along with an acceptable form of photo identification. In addition, for example, if you do not possess one of the seven (7) acceptable forms of identification, and you cannot obtain one due to a reasonable impediment, and your name is not on the official list of registered voters in the precinct, you may be able to cast a regular ballot by presenting your valid voter registration certificate and executing a Reasonable Impediment Declaration.

Please note that you may contact your county voter registrar’s office to obtain a replacement registration certificate.

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

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). If a voter does not possess an acceptable form of photo identification and cannot obtain one due to a reasonable impediment, the voter may present a supporting form of ID and execute a Reasonable Impediment Declaration, noting the voter’s reasonable impediment to obtaining an acceptable form of photo ID, and stating that the voter is the same person on the presented form of supporting form of ID. If a voter has continued access to their acceptable form of photo ID, but, for example, forgets to bring their acceptable form of approved photo ID to the polling place and/or left it, for example, at home or in their car, the voter still possesses the acceptable photo ID and must use it to vote.

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 license to carry a handgun 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

Here is a list of the supporting forms of ID that can be presented if the voter does not possess an acceptable form of photo identification, and cannot obtain one due to a reasonable impediment:

  • Valid voter registration certificate
  • Certified birth certificate (must be an original)
  • Copy of or original current utility bill
  • Copy of or original bank statement
  • Copy of or original government check
  • Copy of or original paycheck
  • Copy of or original government document with your name and an address (original required if it contains a photograph)

My acceptable form of photo ID is expired. Will it still work?

A.

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the acceptable photo identification must be current or have expired no more than 4 years before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place.

What if I forget to bring my photo identification with me when I vote in person? Will I be turned away?

A.

If a voter has continued access to their acceptable form of photo ID, but, for example, forgets to bring their acceptable form of approved photo ID to the polling place and/or left it, for example, at home or in their car, the voter still possesses the acceptable photo ID and must use it to vote. Accordingly, if you possess, but did not bring to the polling place, one of the seven (7) acceptable forms of photo identification with you when you vote in person, you may cast a“provisional ballot” at the polling location instead of a regular ballot, or you may return to the polling place before the polls close on Election Day with your acceptable form of photo identification and vote a regular ballot at that time. In order to have the provisional ballot counted in the election, you will have to visit the county voter registrar’s office by the sixth calendar day after Election Day. At the county voter registrar’s office, you will have to show one of the seven (7) acceptable forms of photo identification listed above, or, if you qualify, submit a natural disaster temporary affidavit referenced above. If you present a proper form of photo identification or submit the natural disaster temporary affidavit, the provisional ballot will be counted.

My name on my identification 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.

Is there any change in the process for voting by mail?

A.

There is no change in the process for voting by mail for most voters. Specifically, there is no change in procedure for voters who are voting by mail after their first time voting by mail, and for first time voters who would otherwise not be required to present identification under the federal Help America Vote Act in order to vote by mail.

Does the address on my ID have to match my address on the official list of registered voters at the time of voting in order for it to be acceptable as ID?

A.

No. There is no address matching requirement.

How can I obtain a DPS Election Identification Certificate?

A.

Election Identification Certificates are available from all DPS driver license offices during regular business hours, and will be available from certain DPS driver license offices from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 22, 2016, and Saturday, October 29, 2016. Also, find mobile station locations here. 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 (1) I refuse to show my acceptable form of photo identification, or, (2) if I do not possess an acceptable form of photo identification and cannot obtain one due to a reasonable impediment, I refuse to show one of the forms of supporting identification?

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 (PDF). 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’s registration cannot be verified by the polling place election officials OR if a voter (a) does not possess one of the acceptable forms of photo identification listed below, which is not expired for more than four years, and a voter can reasonably obtain one of these forms of identification or (b) possesses, but did not bring to the polling place, one of the seven forms of acceptable photo identification listed above, which is not expired for more than four years, or (c) does not possess one of the seven forms of acceptable photo identification, which is not expired for more than four years, could otherwise not obtain one due to a reasonable impediment, but did not bring a supporting form of identification to the polling place.

The provisional voting 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 seven (7) acceptable forms of photo ID OR submit one of the temporary affidavits (e.g., religious objection or natural disaster) OR submit the required paperwork and sign the required statement to qualify for a permanent disability exemption as referenced above, in the presence of the county voter registrar, while attesting to the fact that he or she does not have any of the seven (7) acceptable forms of photo IDs, in order for the provisional ballot to count.

The voter-marked 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. If applicable, the voter registrar will conduct whatever research is necessary to determine whether the voter is or should have been registered in the precinct in which the voter cast the provisional ballot and will pass this information on to the ballot board to assist it in making the decision of whether the provisional ballot must be counted. 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 officers) 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).