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Texas voting FAQs: Here's what you should know

From straight-party voting to electioneering to the national guard, here are some of the most common topics Texas voters have questions about.

Additional details added Wednesday about mail-in and provisional ballots.

Early voting ends Friday, Oct. 30. The final day to vote is Election Day on Nov. 3. 

Here are some of the most common or repeated topics and issues sent to WFAA from North Texas voters.

What am I voting on?

All voters, both in Texas and across the nation, are voting for candidates running for President, the U.S. Senate, Texas Supreme Court, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and Texas Railroad Commissioner. 

Depending on where you live, some people will also vote for candidates in the U.S. House of Representatives, Texas State Board of Education, Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives. 

You can find more information in the WFAA voter guide.

Is there straight-ticket voting in Texas?

Lines have the potential to be longer because voters can no longer check one box to vote for one party’s candidates in every partisan race.

A candidate's party will be written next to or underneath his or her name on the Texas ballots.

House Bill 25 eliminated straight-ticket voting.

Am I registered to vote?

To be eligible to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen over 18 years old on Election Day. You also must have a valid Texas or federal photo ID to cast a ballot, although there are certain exemptions to that.

You can find more information in the WFAA voter guide.

What if I'm not on the list of registered voters at my polling location? 

If your registration cannot be found by the election judge at your polling location, you may cast a provisional vote by filling out an affidavit and a paper ballot.

The Federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 provides provisional voting if a voter's name is not on the list of registered voters due to an administrative or technical error.

This ballot is put in a different place from the regular ballots. The situation will be reviewed by the provisional voting ballot board.

The ballot will be counted if it is determined the voter is a registered voter in that precinct.

To confirm your voter registration status, click here.

Another reason why voters might cast a provisional ballot is if they forgot their ID upon arrival at the polling location. According to Texas law, the voter must visit the voter registrar’s office within six (6) calendar days of the date of the election and present an acceptable form of photo ID, in order for their provisional ballot to count.

Will the Texas National Guard be at polling locations?

Gov. Abbott’s office says that the report about him requesting National Guard resources to polling locations on election day is not true.

Texas Military Department Press Secretary Brandon Jones also confirmed there has been no request nor is there a plan for any military members to be at any polling locations.

Will my vote be public?

The choices made on a ballot remain private by law. However, someone's voter registration can be found through different online databases.

In Dallas County, a person’s voter registration record can be found on the Dallas County Elections Department's website.

Voter information includes the person's name, sex, address, Voter Unique Identifier (VUID) and precinct number.

For records from other Texas counties, you can find that here.

When will the results be announced?

Voters should not expect all election results to be called or announced on Election Day, according to the League of Women Voters of Texas.  

The organization's president, Grace Chimene, says due to an increase in mail-in ballots this year, it will take more time to count the votes and a delay is showing that the "system is working as it should to ensure the integrity of our election process."

Chimene says people should prepare for many election results to be announced after Election Day.

RELATED: On Election Day, slow results mean the system is working, not broken

What if I need help filling out my mail-in ballot?

If someone, other than family members, helps fill out a ballot, witnesses your markings, or mails a ballot for you, they are required to print their name, address and sign the envelope as an assistant.

You can find more information from the Secretary of State here.

What if someone I don't know asks to help with my mail-in ballot?

It is against the law for someone or for an organization to collect or be paid to take voters' mail-in ballots. 

What if I later decide to vote in person?

You can still vote in person after receiving a mail-in ballot.

If you lose or forget your ballot, you can still cast a ballot at the polling station.

When will local officials count mail-in ballots?

Counties with a population of 100,000 more can begin processing mail-in ballots on Oct. 22. Counting the mail-in ballots begins after polls close on the last day of in-person early voting.

In North Texas, this includes:

  • Dallas County
  • Tarrant County
  • Collin County
  • Denton County
  • Ellis County
  • Johnson County
  • Parker County
  • Grayson County
  • Rockwall County

Counties with less than 100,000 people can't begin processing the mail-in ballots until early voting ends.

In Texas, the deadline for mail-in ballots is 5 p.m. the day after Election Day, as long as the mail-in ballots are postmarked on or before Election Day.

Can people campaign for candidates while you're in line?

Electioneering is when someone is advocating for or against a candidate, measure or political party.

This is not allowed within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling place. However, with social distancing, lines are much longer this year and are stretching well beyond 100 feet. 

So electioneering can happen past this point.

Can voter intimidation happen at the polls?

Voter intimidation is illegal in not only Texas but all 50 states. This can include:

  • Direct confrontation of voters
  • The use of insulting, offensive, or threatening language
  • The use of raised voices
  • Spreading false information about voter requirements
  • Blocking entry to a polling place
  • Attempting to act as a poll watcher without certification
  • The use or threat of physical force
  • The possession of guns and other weapons, apart from those belonging to peace officers, are prohibited in a polling place

RELATED: VERIFY: What is, isn’t allowed at Texas voting sites in 2020

Do poll workers have to wear masks?

Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide mask mandate includes exemptions, including voting sites and the people working there. However, many locations do provide poll workers with masks.

Do voters have to wear masks?

Voters also do not have to wear masks as they are included in Gov. Abbott’s exemptions.

However, using some type of face-covering is still encouraged by local and state health officials.

Can some people cut to the front of the line?

The Texas Election Code includes a section about voting order priority and those who can go ahead of others.

Disabilities and conditions may qualify you for voting order priority.

A person assisting an individual with a mobility problem may also, at the individual's request, be given voting order priority.

Who are poll watchers and what do they do?

Poll watchers are people appointed by a candidate or party who can be inside and at polling locations. While they can report violations to the election judge, they can't talk to voters or have a device that records audio or video.

These appointees must wear a type of identification that lets people know they are poll watchers.

Poll watchers must be registered to vote in the area they work in. He or she can not be a candidate for public office as well.

You can find more information about this in the Texas Secretary of State's most recent poll watchers guide.

What will my ballot look like?

You can find your respective county's sample ballot here. You can find more information in the WFAA voter guide.

Can markings cause my ballot to be disqualified?

Markings can not cause disqualifications in Texas. It is different from state to state.

Every Texas ballot has to be eventually signed or marked by the voting center's elections administrator.

It is still important to fill out the ballot yourself correctly, with no extra notes or marks elsewhere.

If you end up wanting to get a new ballot, Texas allows voters to receive up to two more ballots if you make a mistake while filling it out.

Who can I call for help if I have voting questions or issues?

For any questions, call the Texas Secretary of State at 1-800-252-VOTE (8683) or email elections@sos.texas.gov.