Have you made up your mind?
If you already know who you want to vote for on Nov. 8, election officials suggest you cast your vote early — as soon as Monday, if you’d like.
“In person early voting is a convenient option for voters,” Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos said. “Sometimes things happen, like a flat tire or a sick child.
“By voting early, you don’t have to worry if you can’t make it to the polls on Election Day.”
Early voting starts at 8 a.m. Monday and runs through Nov. 4.
State and local election officials say they expect large crowds to be voting in this year’s extraordinarily unusual election, especially since there now are a record 15.1 million Texans registered to vote.
“Based on what we see, like everyone else, we are preparing for a larger than normal turnout,” said Frank Phillips, Tarrant County’s election administrator. “We do encourage people to vote early because of the anticipated heavy turnout on Election Day.”
Many voters are focusing on the presidential race at the top of the ballot, which features Republican Donald Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. There also are a host of candidates eligible to have their names written in, and be legally counted, in Texas.
But it’s not just about the battle for the White House.
In this election, Texans also will weigh in on congressional, legislative, statewide and county races, not to mention casting ballots in local races to settle issues ranging from whether alcohol may be sold in some areas to whether the Texas Rangers should get a new ballpark.
“During early voting, you can cast a ballot at any polling place in your county of registration and also avoid lines that may form on Election Day,” Cascos said.
Millions of Texans vote early every year, particularly in presidential elections.
In 2012, more than 3.4 million Texans in the state’s 15 largest counties — including nearly 420,000 Tarrant County voters — cast ballots early in-person and through mail-in ballots, state election records show.
In 2008, 3.5 million Texans in the same 15-county region voted early in person and through mail-in ballots. That included nearly 460,000 Tarrant County voters, according to state election records.
And in 2004, 2.4 million Texans voted early, including 305,666 Tarrant County residents.
Allan Saxe is not a fan of early voting, but he sees the merits of it.
“In the attempt to boost voter turnout and make it easier, we have compromised knowledge of some major events that could occur after one votes early,” said Saxe, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. “The advantages are, of course, likely smaller lines at (the) polls and having a larger variety of voting places within the county and more time to vote.”
Even though he believes everyone should vote on the same day, he realizes the irony of the fact that he, too, chooses to vote early.
Phillips reminds voters to check the list of early voting sites before heading out, because changes are frequently made and a site open during the last election might not be open this time.
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.
Need an ID?
Bring your photo ID to the polls to vote, if you have one.
But don’t worry. If you don’t have one, you can still vote, since the courts ruled earlier this year that the state’s voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act.
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.
“The law says if you have one of the seven seven original forms of photo ID, you need to show that,” Phillips said. “You fill out the reasonable impediment form if you don’t have that.
“This doesn’t mean it’s a form to be filled out if you left your ID in the car or at home and don’t want to go get it,” he said. “It means you don’t have one of those forms of ID and couldn’t get one.”
Phillips said he doesn’t think there will be a lot of these forms filled out, particularly since estimates already show about 90 percent of voters present their driver license when they vote now.
Election officials say there’s still time to get a photo ID before the election for anyone who needs one.
Also, a number of driver’s license offices will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat., Oct. 29, to issue Election Identification Certificates. Local offices open include these locations: Fort Worth-East Office, 3500 Miller Ave.; Fort Worth-Mega Center, 8301 Brentwood Stair Road; Fort Worth-South Office, 6413 Woodway Drive; and Hurst Office, 624 NE Loop 820.
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.
The IDs must be current or have been expired for no more than four years.
EARLY VOTING SITES
Early voting for the Nov. 8 general and special election starts Monday and runs through Nov. 4: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday; and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 31-Nov. 4.
Tarrant County Elections Center, 2700 Premier St., Fort Worth. This is the main early voting site. Emergency and limited ballots are available there.
All Saints Catholic Church Parish Hall, 200 NW 20th St.
Arlington Subcourthouse, 700 E. Abram St.
Asia Times Square II, 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 Community Center, 900 E. Glendale St.
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
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, Bear Creek Community Room, 645 Grapevine Highway, Hurst
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 Subcourthouse, 6551 Granbury Road, Fort Worth
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
Several temporary early voting sites have special days and hours. They are:
▪ 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Naylor Student Center, 1900 W. Boyce Ave.; Texas Wesleyan University, Brown-Lupton Student Center, 1108 South Collard St.; UNT Health Science Center, Carl E. Everett Education and Administration Building, 3500 Camp Bowie Blvd.
▪ 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 31-Nov. 3: Tarrant County College Northeast Campus, Student Center NSTU 1506, 828 W. Harwood Road, Hurst; Northwest Campus, Student Union WSTU 1303/05, 4801 Marine Creek Parkway, Fort Worth; South Campus Student Center, 5301 Campus Drive, Fort Worth.
▪ 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 31-Nov. 4: UTA, Maverick Activities Center, 500 W. Nedderman Drive, Arlington; TCU, Brown-Lupton University Union, 2901 Stadium Drive.
Source: Tarrant County Elections Office
Election Day will be here before you know it.
To ask for a ballot by mail, call the Tarrant County Elections Office at 817-831-8683. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is Oct. 28.
Voters with questions about voting may go online to VoteTexas.gov or call 1-800-252-VOTE.