PRIMARY RUNOFF ELECTION
Back on March 1st, Texas held its primary elections to determine the Democratic and Republican candidates who will run in the General Election in November. Statewide, more than fifty of those elections failed to produce a winner. The resulting runoff election is happening right now.
Early voting started Monday, May 16, and continues through Friday, May 20. Election Day is Tuesday, May 24.
WHO IS ON THE BALLOT?
In order to earn a place on the general election ballot, a candidate must win more than fifty percent of the vote. In primary races where no candidate hit that threshold, the first place and second place candidates are now facing each other, one-on-one, to determine the winner.
Although there are more than fifty runoffs statewide, your personal ballot will include only a handful of them. Among the big races — depending on your party — are Texas Lieutenant Governor, Texas Attorney General, and Bexar County Judge.
You can get a personalized sample ballot from the Bexar County Elections Department website, and, at the same time, confirm that you’re registered. Go to this page and enter your date of birth and house number, then click the ‘Check Registration’ button.
That will bring up a page with lots of information, including links to sample ballots for both the Democratic and Republican runoffs.
Based on my Lavaca address, I pulled up a Democratic ballot with races for Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller of Public Accounts, Commissioner of the General Land Office, County Judge, Judge for County Court at Law #2, and District Clerk. The Republican ballot had races for US Representative for District 35, Attorney General, Commissioner of the General Land Office, Railroad Commissioner, and Country Chairman.
You can vote in either the Republican or the Democratic primary, not both. If you voted in the original primary election on March 1, you can’t switch parties in the runoffs. If you didn’t vote then, you can choose either party. It doesn’t matter which party you are registered with, and voting in a primary won’t change that registration.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT ABOUT THE CANDIDATES?
There are a few places to get information about the candidates.
You can see a list of candidates on the Texas Tribune website (and get it customized for you by your address).
You can see a list of candidates — including brief platform descriptions — on the Express-News website.
You can see a list of the Express-News endorsements, too. In each case, there’s a link to an article that explains the choice.
WHEN AND WHERE CAN I VOTE?
When you get your personalized sample ballot from the Bexar County Elections Department website, you’ll also find a list of early voting locations. Here are a couple of locations that are very close by:
Bexar County Elections facility at 1103 S Frio (from 8 AM - 8 PM)
Bexar County Justice Center at 300 Dolorosa (from 8 AM - 6 PM)
Notice that the Justice Center location closes at 6 PM.
As of this writing, the Bexar County website isn’t showing locations for election day itself. However, you can find those on the Texas Secretary of State website (and also check your registration). Here are a few nearby locations listed there:
San Antonio Housing Authority at 818 S Flores (7 AM - 7 PM)
Bexar County Elections facility at 1103 S Frio (from 7 AM - 7 PM)
Bexar County Justice Center at 300 Dolorosa (from 7 AM - 6 PM)
Central Library at 600 Soledad (from 7 AM - 7 PM)
Notice once again that the Justice Center location closes at 6 PM.
Be sure to check on all the locations at which you can vote — there may be a very convenient one that is on your commute or some other much-travelled route. I have, for example, voted several times at Lions Field on Broadway en route to Central Market. And make sure you are looking at the right list — the locations for early voting are not all the same as for voting on election day.
WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING WITH ME WHEN I VOTE?
Bring a valid form of identification with you to vote. Accepted forms of identification are:
TX driver’s license
TX election identification certificate
TX personal identification card
TX handgun license
US military ID card with photo
US citizenship certificate with photo
Note that if the only form of ID you have is expired, you may still be able to use it. If you are under 70, you can use it if it is not expired more than four years. If you are over 70, it doesn’t matter how long ago it expired as long as the other information on it is still valid.
If you don’t have any of these forms of ID and you cannot reasonably obtain one, you can still vote by showing a supporting form of identification (for example, a utility bill, a bank statement, a paycheck, or a birth certificate) and signing a ‘Reasonable Impediment Declaration’.
If you get to the polls and realize you forgot your ID, you can still vote. You can cast your ballot, but it will only be counted if you bring your ID to the county voter registrar’s office within six calendar days after election day (that is, by Monday, May 30th). The Bexar County Voter Registration Office is located at 1103 S. Frio, Ste. 100.
HOW ABOUT REGISTRATION?
It’s too late to register for this particular election, but if you’re not registered, it’s a good idea to do it right now, so you can vote in the November general election.
Note that it’s not necessary to re-register every year. If you’ve been registered in the past, you only need to re-register if you’ve changed your name, switched parties, or haven’t voted in the last four years. If you are not registered, unfortunately it’s too late to do so for the runoffs.
But be sure to register now so you can vote in the General Election in November. There are some very big races, including Governor, Attorney General, and Bexar County Judge. You can register here.
Jane Gennarelli is co-editor of LNF Weekly. She also edits the Lavaca & Friends weekly arts and entertainment newsletter.