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Why your vote could matter even more this November

Not sure how to register to vote in Texas? Here's a guide

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Fewer Texans will be heading to the polls this year to weigh in on whether the 141-year-old state Constitution should be changed.

Last year, a record 15.1 million Texans registered to vote in the presidential election.

This year, 1,950 fewer Texans are signed up to vote in the Nov. 7 election, despite the state’s continuing population boom, according to the latest data from the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

The slight drop “could be purely because some persons may have other things to take care of,” said Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. “For some, it may just be a ‘feeling of hopelessness’ that registration and voting have little or no effect on their lives.”

Or it could be that some voters were moved off the rolls because they moved out of the area, were convicted of a felony, or died, said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston.

“Population growth and efforts to register new voters by parties or other groups may break even when combined with voters who are moved off the rolls,” he said.

The number of voters in Tarrant County dropped a little as well, by 2,808 voters. There still are nearly 1.1 million registered voters here, Tarrant County election records show.

In this election, Texans will weigh in on seven constitutional amendments addressing issues ranging from tax exemptions for spouses of first responders killed while on duty to raffles at professional sporting events.

And in Tarrant County, voters from nearly a dozen communities will face issues ranging from the $749 million proposed bond package for the Fort Worth school district to whether Euless should allow liquor stores.

Early voting starts Monday and runs through Nov. 3.

Potential voters

Constitutional amendment elections historically don’t draw as large a turnout as other elections.

In 2015, the last Constitutional Amendment election, there were 13.9 million registered voters in Texas. Just 1.5 million cast ballots in that election, state records show.

The Secretary of State’s office does not have any projection of what turnout figures will be this November, spokesman Sam Taylor said.

But some lawmakers are encouraging Texans to head to the polls and have their votes counted.

“The Texas Constitution is the foundation of our great state and it is critical that each and every person in our area of Texas gets out and votes,” said state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock.

To vote in Texas, a person must be a U.S. citizen, at least 17 years and 10 months old (and 18 by Election Day), mentally sound and not a convicted felon unless the sentence has been completed, including parole or probation.

More than 77 percent of the state’s voting age population, 19.5 million, is registered to vote, state records show.

Heading to the polls?

Just make sure you bring a photo ID to the polls to vote, if you have one.

The seven state-approved photo IDs are: Texas driver’s license, Texas Election Identification Certificate, Texas personal identification card, Texas license to carry a concealed handgun, U.S. military ID card with photo, U.S. citizenship certificate with photo, and U.S. passport.

Those IDs should be up-to-date or not expired for more than four years.

If you don’t have one of those, you can still vote.

Any voter who doesn’t have a photo ID — and can’t “reasonably obtain a form of approved photo ID” before the election — may sign a declaration stating why he or she couldn’t obtain a photo ID.

Then those voters need to show a document such as an original birth certificate, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government document to be cleared to vote.

Anyone who can’t make it to the polls may ask for a mail-in ballot by Oct. 27.

Applications for mail-in ballots may be downloaded and returned to county election officials by fax, mail or email.

To ask for a ballot, call the Tarrant County Elections Office at 817-831-8683.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

Early voting

Early voting for the Nov. 7 election runs from Monday, Oct. 23 to Friday, Nov. 3.

Early votes may be cast in person from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Oct. 30-Nov. 1; and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Nov. 2 and 3.

Tarrant County Elections Administration, 2700 Premier St., Fort Worth, is the main early voting site. Emergency and limited ballots are available there. For more information, call 817-831-8683.

Other sites:

All Saints Catholic Church Parish Hall, 200 NW 20th St.

Arlington Subcourthouse, 700 E. Abram St.

Asia Times Square, 2615 W. Pioneer Parkway, Grand Prairie

Bedford Public Library, 2424 Forest Ridge Drive

Benbrook Community Center, 228 San Angelo Ave.

B.J. Clark Annex, Room 4, 603 Southeast Parkway, Azle

Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center St., Arlington

Center for Community Service Junior League of Arlington, 4002 W. Pioneer Parkway, Arlington

Colleyville City Hall, 100 Main St.

Crowley Recreation Center, 405 S Oak Street

Dan Echols Center, 6801 Glenview Dr., North Richland Hills

Diamond Hill/Jarvis Branch Library, 1300 NE 35th St., Fort Worth

Eagle Mountain-Saginaw school district Administration Building 6, Training Room, 1200 Old Decatur Road, Saginaw

Euless Public Library, 201 N. Ector Drive

Elzie Odom Athletic Center, 1601 NE Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington

Forest Hill Civic and Convention Center, 6901 Wichita St., Forest Hill

Fort Worth ISD Professional Development Center, Room 107, 3150 McCart Ave.

The REC of Grapevine, 1175 Municipal Way

Griffin Subcourthouse, 3212 Miller Ave., Fort Worth

Haltom City Northeast Center, 3201 Friendly Lane

Handley/Meadowbrook Community Center, 6201 Beaty St., Fort Worth

Hurst Recreation Center, 700 Mary Drive

JPS Health Center Viola M. Pitts/Como, Lower Level, Suite 100, 4701 Bryant Irvin Road N.

Keller Town Hall, 1100 Bear Creek Parkway

Kennedale Community Center, 316 W. Third St.

Lake Park Operations Center, 5610 Lake Ridge Parkway, Grand Prairie

Longhorn Activity Center, 5350 Basswood Blvd., Fort Worth

Mansfield Subcourthouse, 1100 E. Broad St.

Northeast Courthouse, 645 Grapevine Highway, Hurst

Richland Hills Public Library, 6724 Rena Dr., Richland Hills

Rosemont Middle School, 1501 W. Seminary Dr., Fort Worth

Sheriff's Office North Patrol Division, 6651 Lake Worth Blvd., Lake Worth

Southlake Town Hall, 1400 Main St.

South Service Center, 1100 SW Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington

Southside Community Center, 959 E. Rosedale St., Fort Worth

Southwest Community Center, 6300 Welch Ave.

Southwest Regional Library, 4001 Library Lane

Tanglewood Elementary School, Portable Building Room 310, 3060 Overton Park Dr. W.

Tarrant County College Southeast Campus, EMB- C Portable Building, 2100 Southeast Parkway, Arlington

Tarrant County Plaza Building, 201 Burnett St.

Villages of Woodland Springs Amenity Center, 12209 Timberland Blvd., Fort Worth

White Settlement Public Library, 8215 White Settlement Road

Worth Heights Community Center, 3551 New York Ave., Fort Worth

Source: Tarrant County Elections Office

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