Please be sure to note, this post applies to Bexar County voters only. If you are registered to vote in a different county, please check with that local election administrator for the most updated rules and procedures.
I’ve been a certified election official since 2016 and worked a fair share of elections since then but this will be my first presidential election as Alternate Judge. Voting can sometimes get complicated with all the different rules to follow so I thought it might be helpful to share these tips before Election Day 2020. If you have additional questions feel free to drop them in the comments at the end of this post.
These two resources are helpful as you plan when and where you’ll vote on Election Day:
Plus general election resources:
League of Woman Voters of the San Antonio Area offers a non-partisan Voters Guide and other local election info
Bexar County Elections Department for election questions and vote totals
VoteTexas.org powered by the Texas Secretary of State
1) In Bexar County, you can vote at ANY location on Election Day, just like during early voting.
In the past, you had to vote at the location for your precinct on Election Day. Due to recent changes effective in Bexar County, you can now vote at any vote center (vote center is the new term for the locations where you can vote). Early voting has always been convenient because you could vote at any site and now the same applies for Election Day but since this is a relatively new rule, lots of folks still aren’t aware.
2) Photo ID is required, Voter registration card is not.
Be sure to take your Texas driver’s license with you to the vote center. Having your voter registration card is also helpful but not required so don’t waste too much time looking for it! If you don’t have a Texas license, your passport will also work. It’s even ok if your license is expired, as long as it hasn’t been expired for more than four year. Don’t have a license or passport? Check this list of acceptable identification and details about how to request a Reasonable Impediment Declaration.
3) You can still cancel your mail-in ballot and vote in person.
Lots of folks requested mail-in ballots and then perhaps decided they would rather vote in person. You can do this! If you have received the mail-in ballot, be sure to take it with you to the vote center and the election official will cancel it for you. If you requested a mail-in ballot but have not received it, you can still vote in person just notify the election official of your unfulfilled request. They will call Bexar County Elections to cancel your ballot and then get you checked in to vote in-person.
4) Priority can be given to those with mobility challenges.
This year I’ve seen a lot of questions about whether anyone is allowed to “skip the line” and move to the front of the line. Particularly for older voters or those with mobility issues, yes, you can check with the election judge at your vote center to ask about accommodations.
5) Curbside voting is available at all vote centers.
I have noticed this year that a lot of voters (or would-be voters!) do not realize that you can request a curbside vote at any vote center.
“If a voter is physically unable to enter the polling place without assistance or likelihood of injury to his or her health, one election officer may deliver a ballot to the voter at the entrance or curb of the polling place.” [Sec. 64.009(a)] Texas Election Code
Bexar County Elections Department recommends calling the curbside voting line (210-335-0362) to arrange to cast your ballot at your preferred vote center. They may have you call once you arrive so that Bexar County can then call the election judge at the vote center to meet you at your car.
6) Signature in pencil is acceptable and approved by the Texas Secretary of State.
This election, due to COVID-19 safety measures, voters will use pencil to sign the combination form when they check in to vote. Using pencil for an official signature may seem strange but it has been approved by the Texas Secretary of State. Each voter will receive a pencil at the check-in table that they can use as a stylus (with the eraser end) to make their selection on the voting machine so that no one will touch the screen with their finger. If you are still not comfortable, you may request to sign with your own pen but will still need to use a pencil or gloved hand to mark your electronic ballot on the voting machine.
7) Please don’t let the kiddos touch the screen!
I’m sorry! We all love to take our kids to vote with us, right? And we may remember our parents taking us to vote when we were kids. Research shows that taking our kids to the polls may mean they will be more likely to vote when they are eligible. You are more than welcome to take your children (if they are under 18) to the voting machine with you but children are not allowed to touch the screen and make any selections for you. But be sure to grab a “Future Voter” sticker for your kiddos before you leave the vote center!
8) Poll workers in Bexar County are actually not volunteers.
And finally, while I appreciate being thanked for my service by the voters I check in, to be sure, it’s a service I’m getting paid to do. Bexar County election judges and clerks get paid to open, manage, and close the vote centers. We volunteer to get trained and then sign up to work early voting or Election Day. If you are interested in learning more and serving in the democratic process, I’d highly encourage you to sign up for the next certification training! Find more info on how to serve as an election official as presiding judge, alternate judge, or clerk on the Bexar County Elections website.