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Election Day: Dos and don’ts of voting

Posted: 5:08 AM, Nov 06, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-06 06:08:27-05

This could be a historic year at the ballot box. Republicans are looking to sweep all the statewide offices again, but Democrats have fielded more candidates for more races than they have in years.

While midterms are typically low-turnout elections, this election will have people willing to wait in long lines to cast their ballot later this morning.

At the end of early voting, the turnout in Nueces County surpassed the entire turnout of the 2014 midterm election with more than 60,000 early voters. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to vote.

“We almost reached the 2016 early voting numbers, we aren’t quite there. But it was a huge moment. I mean, we are looking at voters who never voted before, voters who may not have voted for a long time. So just this level of turnout is exciting for both Republicans and Democrats alike,” said Texas A&M-University Corpus Christi political science professor David Smith.

In previous midterm elections, as few as one in three Texans cast a ballot. This year experts say those numbers will increase thanks to the first time voters.

“Most importantly, if you come to the Texas polls, you need some form of identification, driver’s license, state-issued ID, your passport, and it must be valid. You will also need your voter’s identification card, and if you don’t have it, then you can use your state issued ID. And you need to be prepared to be in the poll alone unless you need assistance in some form,” said Smith.

Keep in mind, most states have laws restricting what voters can wear to cast their ballots.

“There is no campaign propaganda whatsoever. You can’t wear a Trump t-shirt, can’t wear your ‘Make America Great Again’ hat; you cannot bring any form of candidate or party or issue support paraphernalia, button, stickers, t-shirts, what-have-you, jackets. That is illegal; that is a form of electioneering campaign participation to try and sway someone’s vote. So when you come in, there is nothing allowed that would be deemed as campaign apparel,” said Smith.

You can have paper notes, you may take in the League of Women’s Voters’ guide. But you cannot take any electronic devices, and you can’t bring your cell phone into the voting booth itself.

The early voting turnout is so unprecedented that researchers are now viewing this election in the same lens as a general election, which tends to draw more voters to the polls.

After a judge ruled the Texas 2011 voter ID law discriminatory, Texas scaled back on its voter ID requirements. The acceptable forms of ID now are:

  • 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 Handgun License 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 (book or card)

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, ID must be current or have expired no more than four years before being presented at the polling place.

If you don’t have any of the above forms of ID and there was a reasonable impediment or difficulty obtaining one, the following supporting forms of ID can be presented:

  • 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 current utility bill
  • 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 U.S. state or territory) birth certificate or (b) a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes the voter’s identity (which may include a foreign birth document).

After presenting a supporting form of ID, you’ll have to sign a Reasonable Impediment Declaration.  Learn more here about voter ID.