Early Voting Starts Today. What Are You Waiting For?

Early voting could save the day this election cycle.
Early voting could save the day this election cycle. File photo
Election Day always has the potential to turn hectic. It's almost incomplete without stories of long lines, hold-ups and technical difficulties. To add to the madness, the world is still trying to get a grip on the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s much more fun to read about thousands of people standing in line for hours waiting to vote on the last possible day to cast a ballot than to be one of them. If you’re trying to beat the rush on Election Day, you might want to consider heading to the polls before the end of the month for early voting.

Early voting started today in Texas, which means you should put down whatever device you're reading this on and go vote now. Don't wait.

Soraya Santos, a local community activist, says early voting is a privilege. “It’s practically a gift to be given this much time to vote,” Santos says. “It leaves no room for excuses.”

Santos says voters are more likely to get in and out quickly when casting their ballots early since the crowds are often much smaller. “An extra perk as we’re still in the middle of a pandemic,” Santos says.

Joanna Cattanach, a Democrat running for the Texas House in District 108, says she worked as an election judge in the runoff this summer. While early voting is often quicker, Cattanach says people heading to cast their ballot early should still expect some delay for the protection of poll workers and other voters during the pandemic.

Cattanach says votes will count whether they’re cast early or on Election Day, but voting early ensures that if something goes wrong, there’s time to fix it. “It's 2020, and don't think something won't happen before you get to vote,” Cattanach says. “Don't leave it to chance in this crazy year, and please, please wear a mask.”

At the Dallas County Elections Department’s meeting last week, some county commissioners raised questions about whether the county is prepared. Commissioner J.J. Koch said there was a backlog in mail-in ballots, a delay in logistics and a lack of organization at voting facilities.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he worries that if over half of voters cast their ballot on Election Day it will be a disaster. But, with all the concerns about mail-in ballots and Election Day, Koch said he is confident in early voting.

This crazy year’s election may be more important than some before. Besides the fact that it’s between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden at the top of the ticket, Dems seem to believe there’s a chance they can gain a majority in the Texas House.

All 150 seats in the state House are up for election Nov. 3, and Democrats need is to gain nine seats to be in the majority.

To cast a ballot at one of Dallas County’s 37 full-time early voting locations, you’ll need to bring one of the following acceptable forms of identification:
  • Texas driver's license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
  • Texas handgun license issued by DPS
  • U.S. military identification card containing your photograph
  • U.S. citizenship certificate containing your photograph or
  • U.S. passport
Your ID must be current or have expired no more than four years before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place.

If you do not have one of these forms of ID because of a reasonable impediment, you may vote if you sign a sworn statement as to the reason why and provide either a certified birth certificate, valid voter registration certificate, a current utility bill, government check, bank statement or paycheck, or government document with your name and an address.

If you do not have any of these forms of ID or a reasonable reason for not having one, you can cast a provisional ballot. But, to make sure it is counted, you must stop by the voter registrar's office within six calendar days of Election Day to either submit a temporary affidavit or qualify for a disability exemption. If a voter is unable to enter a polling place, curbside voting will be offered.

"With so many questions and misinformation going around about mail-in ballots, early voting can give you a sense of safety and security," Santos says.

Registered voters may cast ballots at any early voting location. Hours may vary by polling location, but the last day to vote early is Friday, Oct. 30. Below, we've linked to official sites that can help you find the nearest polling site.
The Texas Secretary of State's Office maintains a website where you can check your registration status and get more information on where to vote in your county.
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn