2020 is turning out to be a year unlike any we have ever experienced. Before COVID-19 was even a concept for most of us, we knew that voting would be one of our priorities. Participating in elections and casting our ballot is one of the key freedoms of American life. Voting is a fundamental part of our democratic process, but voter disenfranchisement efforts are an ever-present danger. We have a legacy of voting restrictions that suppress minority votes, so we must be diligent about knowing our rights so that “every vote counts” finally becomes the truth of our society.
As people all across the country struggle to figure out how to vote during a pandemic, knowing key dates of the electoral process is essential. And some of those dates have changed as elected officials try to navigate the challenges of balancing public safety in a time when ideas of what is safe change regularly. We have compiled a list of dates you should know.
National Voter Registration Day — Did you know that we have an actual holiday devoted to registering voters? The fourth Tuesday of every September is a day that our country focuses on getting citizens registered. While this isn’t an absolute deadline needed to vote this year, it’s a great public reminder to you or your friends that getting registered is important.
Last day to register to vote. THIS is the important day and hard deadline to be sure you can vote in November. If you are a procrastinator who likes to live on the edge, put this date on your calendar (now) so that you can send your registration in. Get an application to register here.
Early voting begins! Early voting has moved up from the 20th because of the coronavirus. Texas allows for early voting in person and by mail. By providing an extra week to vote, the hope is to keep crowd sizes down and not overwhelm the postal system. There are still limitations over who is permitted to vote by mail. Check your eligibility and learn how to vote early here. Early voting locations will be posted to your “My Voter Page” by October 11th.
Last day to apply for ballot by mail/absentee ballot (ballot received by clerk; not postmarked) — If you are 65 or older, are sick or disabled, are confined to jail, or will be away from your county on Election Day, you can request an absentee ballot. Your application must be sent to the Early Voting Clerk in the country where you are registered to vote. Find the address for your county’s clerk here.
Early Voting Ends — Friday, October 30th is the last day of early voting by personal appearance at a voting location. Early voting locations can be found here.
Election Day — Voting hours across the state are from 7:00am to 7:00pm. You can find your polling place by consulting your County Elections Office or searching the “My Voter Page” to get a precinct location.
Deadline to Return completed absentee ballot — This is the most confusing date in the entire election process. You may return your completed absentee ballot to your county clerk or a polling location before 7pm on November 3rd. OR you ballot may be received by Wednesday Nov 4th 5:00pm CST if the carrier envelope is postmarked by 7pm the prior day. But there is no guarantee that your ballot will arrive on time with the slower delivery rates the USPS is currently experiencing. Don’t wait. Mail your ballot at least one week prior to this deadline — or even earlier — to be sure it arrives on time.