For the next two months, it will be hard to miss that there’s an election happening in Texas.
People who vote regularly already know that, because candidates for governor and other statewide offices have been working for votes for more than a year.
There were party primaries in March and runoffs in May.
But with candidate lists officially set, ballots are being drawn up. The Labor Day holiday marked the traditional beginning of the final stretch to Election Day, Nov. 4.
Early voting, where at least half of the votes in typical elections are cast these days, begins Oct. 20.
Every election is unique. Pardon the grammatical absurdity, but this one is uniquer than most.
Let them know you’re coming
Everybody has to be registered in order to vote. The deadline to register for the Nov. 4 election is Oct. 6.
You can find out how to register at VOTEXAS.gov or by calling the Tarrant County elections office at 817-831-8683.
You can avoid some hassle if you make sure you are registered at the address where you currently live.
College students who want to vote locally can do that, but they must be registered locally.
Some people who have made a local move since the last time they registered or voted either vote early (when they can vote at any polling place) or go back to their former polling place on Election Day.
It’s not hard to register or update your registration, but you need to do it now. You’re more likely to vote if you do.
Prove who you are
The Texas voter ID law is in effect for this election. That means you must have an acceptable form of photo identification when you vote (unless you request a mail-in ballot — call the elections office — which is a confusing quirk in the law).
You need a driver’s license, state-issued personal ID card, concealed handgun license, military card and citizenship certificate with photo or a passport.
Student IDs don’t work. Free voter IDs are available at drivers’ license offices.
Again, you’re better off if your name and address on the ID exactly match the name and address on your voter registration. You can still vote if they don’t, but it’s more of a hassle.
A federal court case challenging the voter ID law is underway in Corpus Christi. The trial is expected to be over soon, but the outcome probably will not affect the Nov. 4 election.
Get to know the ballot
In a new twist beginning in this election, the headline state and federal political battles will not be at the top of the ballot.
That honor goes to a Texas constitutional amendment election on providing more money for transportation projects and to several local propositions and bond elections.
Then come the races for federal and state offices, appeals court judges, legislative seats and county offices.
The elections office posts sample ballots online.
Get to know the local issues
The Nov. 4 local ballot propositions are a big deal, and moving them to the top of the ballot will get them more attention.
Fort Worth will have three propositions that would allow financing through user fees for the city’s half of a proposed $450 million arena in the Will Rogers Complex. Private donors have pledged to pay for the other half, plus any cost overruns.
Three school districts are submitting multimillion-dollar bond propositions for new or enhanced facilities and equipment. The proposals call for $61.5 million in the Aledo district, $163.2 million in Birdville and $169.5 million in Keller.
Azle, Forest Hill, Reno and Richland Hills also have issues on the ballot.
Get to know the candidates
You’ll be hearing a lot from office seekers. They’ll spend millions of dollars to make sure of it.
The races with the highest profiles are for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and comptroller, but several others are also hotly contested.
The race for state Senate District 10 in Fort Worth and Arlington literally could change the balance of power in the Legislature.
All of this is bedrock democracy. The more people take part, the better for all.