Elections

Tip to Halloween voters in Texas: Leave your masks at home

Masks of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are popular items on Halloween. But they aren’t allowed in polling places when Texans vote because election judges must be able to see a voter’s face.
Masks of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are popular items on Halloween. But they aren’t allowed in polling places when Texans vote because election judges must be able to see a voter’s face. spirithalloween.com

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton masks might be among the most popular costumes this Halloween, but not at polling sites.

Election officials are asking Texans who decide to vote early on All Hallows’ Eve to do everyone a favor and just leave their masks in the car or at home.

Feel free to wear a Halloween costume, but make sure you also leave your campaign T-shirts, buttons and hats there, too, to avoid violating electioneering laws.

“We definitely encourage everyone to have fun at Halloween,” said Frank Phillips, Tarrant County’s election administrator. “If you go into a polling site in costume, you’ll have to take off your mask.”

Election officials need to see people’s faces, because of the state’s Voter ID law, which also means people can’t vote with their faces painted.

Early voting runs through Nov. 4. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Texas law says electioneering happens when someone wears clothes, buttons, hats, pins or other items promoting a candidate inside a polling place or within 100 feet of a door through which a voter could enter the building.

It is up to individual election judges to determine how to handle it.

They generally will ask people to remove or cover any campaign materials, which could be as simple as turning a shirt inside out. That’s what happened to a voter who went to cast a ballot on the Texas Rangers stadium proposal who was wearing a Rangers T-shirt.

Early voting runs through Nov. 4. Election Day is Nov. 8.

On the ballot

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.

Election officials are asking early voters to carefully review the summary screen on early voting machines before they cast their ballots.

“This gives voters an opportunity to review and change their choices before a vote is cast,” according to a statement from the Tarrant County Elections Office.

Don’t forget...

Election officials say voters should bring their photo ID to the polls to 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.

Election officials say there’s still time to get a photo ID before the election for anyone who needs one.

The Texas Department of Public Safety offers Election Identification Certificates at its driver’s license offices during regular hours to Texas voters who don’t have any other valid form of photo ID.

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 longer than four years.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

Election Information

To see a sample ballot, go to the Tarrant County elections website.

For more information about candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot, go to the Star-Telegram website, www.star-telegram.com, to read the online Voters Guide.

Voters with questions about voting may call the Tarrant County Elections Office at 817-831-8683.

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