As of October 19, 2020, one fifth of registered voters in Texas’s top 10 largest counties have already cast their votes. On day one of early voting in Texas, in Harris County more people cast their votes than everyone in Georgia on their first day of early voting. This wave of turnout, like everything else lately, is a reflection of the times we’re living in and the crucial importance of this particular election cycle. There’s a lot at stake for LGBTQ+ advocates, from the state level where we’re closer to a pro-equality majority in the Texas House than we’ve ever been, to the top of the ticket and the change to stop the incessant anti-LGBTQ+ attacks coming from the White House.
We have to keep the momentum up to win, and if you’re one of the folks who haven’t voted yet, one of the best things you can do is to make a plan. Psychology tells us that we’re more likely to achieve our goals when we make a tangible list of steps to take to get there. With voting, that means a plan that includes picking a day, working it into your schedule, and making sure you have everything you need to cast your ballot. Here are 5 easy steps to create your very own voting plan and ensure that November 3rd doesn’t sneak up on you!
The first thing you need to do is pick a day and method to vote. Early voting runs until October 30. If you’re planning to vote by mail, you have until October 23 to officially put in your request (read about who qualifies for mail-in voting here). If you’re voting on Election Day, be ready to spend some time in line and plan to bring snacks and charge up your phone before you head out. Whenever you plan to vote, remember to put it in your calendar so you don’t forget!
Once you know how you’re voting, make sure you know where. By looking up your ballot drop off location or polling place ahead of time, you save yourself some last minute searching and make the whole process smoother. The Texas Secretary of State has early voting and Election Day polling places and hours on this website. You can use your Texas Drivers License number, or your name, county and date of birth to look up polling information tailored to you.
If you’re planning to drop-off your mail-in ballot in person, you’ll have to look up your county’s specified drop-off location. You can find this by contacting your local elections office.
For folks in Harris County dealing with the one drop-off locations, here’s a great offer from Lyft.
The closest races are typically those down-ballot, the local races that appear below the Presidential ticket. Spending an hour or so looking at a sample ballot helps you know what races you’re eligible to vote in, and research a little about the candidates before their names are staring back at you in the voting booth.
You can typically find a sample ballot on your county’s website — I often just google Dallas County Sample Ballot. You may need to know your precinct, which you can find on the same Texas Secretary of State site where you find polling places and hours.
Once you have your sample ballot you can look up the candidate’s website, their endorsements, or news articles that tell you what they’re about. Your local newspaper may also have candidate questionnaires which you can read through and see who best fits your values.
Whether you’re voting in person or dropping off a mail-in ballot, you’ll need an approved form of photo ID like a driver’s license or passport. If you don’t have one of the 7 forms of approved photo IDs there are supporting forms of ID that you can bring that will still allow you to vote (with some added paperwork).
You cannot look at your phone while voting, but you can take paper notes in with you for those important down-ballot races.
If you’re sending your ballot by mail, double check that your signature is on the ballot – it won’t be counted without it.
However you decide to vote this year, make sure you have a plan. Getting a reminder on the day-of, and knowing ahead of time where to go, who to vote for, and what to bring can transform your voting experience and reduce voting-related stress.
Join the millions of Texans who have already voted and make your voice heard. If you want to do more to help other Texans get out and vote, sign up for one of our election phone banks today!