Written by Kate Kahle, Assistant Editor
Whether you’re the political commentator of your friend group or just read the headlines every now and then, you likely know that the midterm elections are coming up this November. Unfortunately, exercising your civic duty isn’t as simple as just showing up at a polling place and selecting your preferred candidates, especially if Austin College is far from your home. Ensure that you can cast your ballot successfully by following a few easy steps.
The first step on your journey to the ballot box is making sure you are registered to vote. To vote in the midterm elections on November 8th, you must be registered by October 11th. Even if you’ve voted before, you should check if you’re registered on the Texas Secretary of State’s website. If you aren’t from Texas, you can check your registration on your state’s website.
If you’re eligible to vote in Texas but are not yet registered, you can begin the registration process using Vote Texas. You will have to mail a paper copy of your registration paperwork to your local election office. To be eligible to vote in the upcoming midterm elections, your elections office will need to have received your paperwork in the mail by Tuesday, October 11th. Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming are the only states that do not offer fully online registration. If you are from another state, you will be able to register fully online through your state government’s website.
Once you’re sure you are registered to vote, you need to make a voting plan. If you are able to make it to your home county on Tuesday, November 8th, you will be able to vote in person. If your county participates in the Countywide Polling Place Program, or CWPP, you will be able to vote at any polling place within your county. Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Sherman all participate in the CWPP program. For both CWPP and non-CWPP counties, voters can locate their polling place using the Texas Secretary of State’s website. This website will also inform you of the dates early voting is being offered and the locations of polls for early voting. Keep in mind that not all counties offer early voting on the same days, and not all polling places offer early voting.
Anyone who is not registered in Grayson County is eligible to submit a request for an absentee ballot for the Midterm elections. To vote by mail you will need to print and fill out an Application for Ballot By Mail (ABBM) form. After you have completed your ABBM form, send it by mail to your county’s Early Voting Clerk. You can find the address of your Early Voting Clerk here. To be eligible to vote by mail in the midterm elections the Early Voting Clerk must receive your application before Friday, October 28th. When your ABBM is approved, your election office will send you a ballot in the mail. You must fill out the ballot and mail it back to your election office by voting day in order for your vote to be counted.
Once you’re sure you are registered to vote and have a voting plan in place, you should the offices and candidates that will appear on your ballot – and get excited to share your opinions and beliefs through our democratic system. Happy voting!