With a certain amount of confusion swirling around many, many elements of this process, let’s clear up some things here based on reliable advice.
- You can vote anywhere in Bexar County on Election Day, not just at a single voting location you’ve used in the past or understand you are assigned to. You can vote ANYWHERE. And voting locations are open from 7 am to 7 pm. That means if you’re in line when the polls close, you can still vote. But get there earlier, obviously. And 7:01 p.m. by their clock is officially too late. You were warned.
2. If you haven’t Early Voted and still need to vote on Election Day, come up with your 1st choice location and several nearby alternatives before you leave home, so you can pivot quickly if need be. There are more than 300 sites open. How to find the 10 closest to you or where you want to vote from? Punch in the address here and find them. Or use the “Move the Line” platform from your phone.
3. Questions about ID. This gets thorny, because there’s so many details. Simplest maneuver? Bring your voter ID card, which currently is orange and expires in 2021. Bring an acceptable photo ID, one of multiple choices listed here, to confirm who you are. Also bring your own pen if you don’t want to use a pencil (it’s legal) or a pen that’s possibly been in heavy rotation. If you have an old voter registration card from Bexar County, bring that. (The VUID and the bar code are the same.) Bringing this card, while not required, will make the process go faster, and if there is a problem with your registration, odds are this will either solve it or help resolve it. For more details, read this post. Or look through the official 7 forms of legitimate ID briefing. REMINDER: If you think there may be a problem with your voter registration, show up early enough in the day so that there is time to resolve it.
4. You still have a mail-in ballot. There is some confusion about whether you can drop it off in person today at the S. Frio elections office, or whether it is already too late . To be safe, though, you can cancel your mail ballot at any polling place and vote in person. If you have your mail-in ballot, bring it with you to speed up the process. If you do not have it, the judge will have to call downtown to verify it has not already been received, in which case it can no longer be cancelled because your vote is already in the process of being recorded. Bonus points: Want to see if your ballot (even in-person) has been received and counted? Check this site.
5. If you want some help to remind yourself of who or what you want to vote for, proposition-wise, you can bring a sample ballot printed out — and keep it in your pocket until you’re in the booth — but NOT your cellphone. Your cell phone needs to be turned off once you’re inside the voting location.
6. Concerned about how to get there? Most voting sites are on a bus line, and VIA is providing free transportation on Election Day. Uber and Lyft are also offering discounted rides to the polls. Plan ahead to give yourself enough time in case many others have the same idea! (VIA will provide fare-free transportation for passengers who present a valid voter registration card to the bus or van operator, according to their site. You can download their app here.)
7. Voting while disabled? You have several options, although Early Voting was **really** a great idea, when the crush was less intensive. (Next time, try that for a great choice.) If you are disabled, you can a) go to the front of the line for voting; or b) you can ask for curbside voting, where a poll worker brings the machine to you. But call the elections dept. first (210–335–8683) and tell them where you’re headed. Or go to a place like AT&T Center, UTSA main campus or Shavano Park where the process should be quite smooth. Suggestion: Stick with the Early Voting sites because they’re most familiar with the process.
8. Can you bring your kids? Yes. They’re allowed. It can be great training for their future. Bring snacks, entertainment and masks as needed. If you feel like you’re going to be too distracted though, please make arrangements to drop off your kids with someone reliable instead though. Use your judgment.
9. What if you have COVID? Should you vote? Don’t expose other people, please, including election workers and the others in line with you. And definitely don’t do “curbside,” where the election worker practically has to get in the car with you (much too high-touch with an infectious disease). Instead, call the Elections Office (210–335–8683) and ask for an emergency ballot where they may leave it for you in a safe place, and you can fill it out and return it (same day). Similarly, if you got sick or hospitalized after the last day to request a Vote-by-Mail ballot (October 23rd) you can still call the Election Office to discuss your specific situation and what alternatives might be. And yes, everyone needs to wear masks and socially distance, even while voting.
10. Can you wear potentially offensive clothing mentioning how much you love your candidate or hate the other one(s)? Better not to. It has the potential to slow things down and create extra tension in an already tense experience. You may be asked to turn your gear (including any mask) inside out if it’s too blatant.
11. What to do if you see voters being harassed or intimidated by others (who are often in groups)? There are several hotlines you can contact, including the ACLU. The TX Democrats hotline (844) TX-VOTES (844–898–6837), the ACLU (866) OUR-VOTE (866–687–8683) or the Poor People’s Campaign (email firstname.lastname@example.org). The ACLU hotline is available in multiple languages.
12. If you are a military member or military family member who requested a mail-in ballot that never arrived, what should you do? It’s a bit complex, so give yourself and the election workers enough time to handle this. You can vote in person, but when you attempt to your name will be flagged for having started using the other system, called a FPCA (Federal Post Card Application). The poll worker can call downtown and get the mail-in ballot canceled. Only one person can handle this transaction though and they may be swamped.
13. Voting transgender. While no elections official should question your gender presentation, there may be some issue with names. The rule is apparently names have to be “substantially similar” so it may be wise to bring backup documentation if your ID name and your voter registration name do not match. Election judges at the sites may vary in how strict they are about interpreting individual situations.
14. If you’re registered to vote in another county, what can you do? Nothing, at the moment, except go to that county and vote. You could have voted here during Early Voting, on something called a limited ballot. But on Election Day, just in the county where you’re registered.
15. One last word to the wise: Be kind to election workers. They’re doing this for all of us. And we’re grateful.
We hope this guidance was helpful to you. It was sourced from actual experts and our fantastic grassroots voting group on Facebook, “Bexar County Voting Location Wait Times.” With special thanks to election judge Susan Ives.