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En español | Registered voters in Texas can only vote by mail for certain reasons, and a 2021 law requires voters to provide ID on both the mail ballot application and the return carrier envelope.
Local elections in some cities, including Houston, are being held in 2023. An election on whether or not to amend the state constitution is also being held in 2023. The next statewide elections in 2024 include races for seats in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, state Legislature and other offices.
- Upcoming elections: Houston's general election and the Texas constitutional amendment election are on Nov. 7, 2023. Information about 2024 statewide elections is available at votetexas.gov.
- Mail-in voting: Mail-in ballots are available only to registered voters who are 65 or older, are sick or have a disability, are incarcerated but otherwise eligible, or will be out of their home county during early voting or on Election Day.
- Early in-person voting: Registered voters may vote at an early voting site in their county starting 17 days before an election.
- Voting at the polls: An acceptable form of photo ID, such as a Texas driver’s license or U.S. passport, is required to vote at the polls. Without a photo ID, you must complete a declaration and include an acceptable form of supporting ID, such as a current utility bill.
What do I need to know about the 2023 elections?
On Tuesday, Nov. 7, Houston voters will decide races for mayor, city controller and seats on the Houston City Council and Texas voters will decide on 14 propositions to amend the state constitution. Polls are open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
The voter registration deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 10. If you meet the requirements to vote by mail, your application must be received by Friday, Oct. 27.
Early in-person voting runs from Monday, Oct. 23 through Friday, Nov. 3. Early voting sites are listed at harrisvotes.com for the Houston election and on county websites for the constitutional amendment election.
Have there been recent changes to voting in Texas?
A 2023 law requires election officials to assist and prioritize voters who have problems with mobility. The law also requires each polling place to offer parking space for voters with disabilities who want to cast their ballots.
A 2021 state law that changed voting regulations in Texas is facing a legal challenge. Check back for updates.
Changes in 2021 include:
- A ban on drive-thru and 24-hour early voting.
- Election officials are no longer permitted to send unsolicited vote-by-mail application forms to voters.
- Mail-in-ballot voters must include their Texas driver’s license or state ID number on both the application and the return carrier envelope for their completed ballot. If you do not have either, you may use the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Those who assist someone else in filling out a ballot at the polls must sign a form disclosing their relationship to the voter. They also must recite an oath stating that they did not pressure or coerce the voter into choosing them as their assistant.
How do I register to vote?
Register by mail or in person:
- By mail: Complete a voter registration application online. Then print, sign and mail it to the voter registrar in your county. If you’d prefer to complete the application by hand, make an online request or call your voter registrar to have them mail you a registration form. You can also pick up an application from your voter registrar’s office or from public libraries, government offices or high schools. Mail your completed form to your voter registrar.
- In person: Visit the voter registrar in your county.
Be sure to include either your Texas driver’s license number, your state ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number on your application. If you don’t have one of those, you must indicate that on the form.
Check to see if you’re already registered at the state’s Am I Registered? webpage. Note that you must reregister if you move to a different county. You can update your address online through the secretary of state’s Voter Name and Address Changes portal.
Once registered, you’ll be mailed a voter registration certificate or card.
Does my party affiliation matter when I vote in the primaries?
Texas primaries are open. Voters do not have to be registered as a member of a party to participate in its primary. You must, however, sign a pledge that declares you will not vote in another party’s primary in the same year.
How can I get a mail-in ballot?
Mail-in ballots are available only to voters who are 65 or older, are sick or have a disability, are incarcerated but otherwise eligible, or will be out of their home county on Election Day and during the early voting period.
Mail-in ballots can be requested by mail or in person.
- By mail: Download the application for a ballot online. Or contact your county’s early voting clerk or the secretary of state’s office to request an application. Once complete, mail it to your county’s early voting clerk.
- In person: Submit your application in person to your county’s early voting clerk.
- By email or fax: If you think you may miss the deadline to submit your application for a mail-in ballot, you can email your application to your county’s early voting clerk — or fax it, if your county clerk has a fax machine. You must then also mail the original application so that the clerk receives it no later than the fourth business day after it was received via email or fax.
State law requires you to provide either your Texas driver’s license number, Texas personal ID number or election ID certificate number (which is different from your Voter Unique Identifier number) on both your mail-in ballot application and the return carrier envelope for your voted ballot. If you have not been issued one of these numbers, you can submit the last four digits of your Social Security number.
If you require assistance to complete your mail-in ballot request form and/or mail-in ballot, your assister’s name, address and signature must be included on the request form and/or the carrier envelope used to return your ballot to the early voting clerk. Voters may not be assisted by their employer, an agent of their employer, or an officer or agent of their union.
How do I return a mail-in ballot?
Texas voters can deliver completed mail-in ballots only by mail or in person to their county’s early voting clerk. Drop boxes are not available.
Make sure the identifier you list on your return carrier envelope matches at least one of those on your voter registration record.
Also note that not all Texas counties provide prepaid postage.
Can I track my mail-in ballot?
Check the status of your mail-in ballot as well as correct any missing or incorrect information identified by county election officials via the state’s official online Ballot by Mail Tracker.
Can I vote in person before Election Day?
Yes, you can cast your ballot at your local early voting site. Locations and hours will be made available at the secretary of state’s web portal before any statewide election. Hours may vary by county but must occur between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Counties with more than 55,000 residents must have polls open for at least 12 hours each weekday during the second week of early voting. Drive-thru and 24-hour early voting are no longer permitted.
What do I need to know about voting at the polls on Election Day?
All polling places in Texas must be accessible for voters. If you require assistance to cast your ballot, you may receive assistance from either a person of your choosing (aside from your employer, an agent of your employer, or an officer or agent of your union) or from two election workers. Those who assist others must sign a form disclosing their relationship to the voter. They also must recite an oath stating they did not pressure or coerce the voter into choosing them as an assistant.
Voters who can't read English may use interpreters at the polls. If a voter is physically unable to enter a polling place, curbside voting is available.
Do I need identification to vote?
Yes. You must present one of the seven acceptable forms of photo ID, which include a Texas driver’s license, an election identification certificate or a U.S. passport.
If you don’t have a photo ID you can fill out a declaration at your polling place, where you must also present one of the acceptable forms of supporting ID, such as a certified copy of a domestic birth certificate, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government check.
If you have an acceptable photo ID but don’t have it at your polling place, you can still vote a provisional ballot. You will have six days after an election to present the acceptable ID to your county registrar or to process an exemption for your vote to count.
Editor’s note: This guide was updated on Oct. 3, 2023, with more information about voting in Texas' 2023 elections.
Also of Interest:
- Follow AARP's political coverage at aarp.org/elections
- Keep up with local events and AARP advocacy efforts at states.aarp.org/texas