By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – The Nov. 3 election is a little over two months away and the Houston County Elections office would like remind voters what they may expect on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
According to Houston County Elections Administrator Cynthia Lum, “With the postponement of the May local elections to November, voters may find that they are eligible to vote multiple ballots. To reduce confusion on this process be aware that along with the General Election ballot voters may receive ballots for the postponed: City of Grapeland Election; Crockett I.S.D. Board Election; Houston County Hospital District Board Election; and the Latexo ISD Bond Election.”
Lum also stressed there have been many changes within the law that are going to greatly affect how voters cast their ballots in November.
Among these changes are:
- No More Straight Party Option: This election will be the first time we will see the effects of HB 25, the removal of the “straight-party” option in an election. This will mean that you can no longer vote straight Democrat or straight Republican by just marking the party at the top of the ballot. Voters will have to go through the ballot and mark each candidate for each race that they wish to vote for.
- COVID-19 Procedures: We are still implementing protocols for COVID-19 during the elections and don’t see these changing before the end of the year. Voters are still encouraged to wear face coverings when voting and to sanitize their hands before entering and after exiting the polling location.
- Extended Early Voting: Per the Governor’s proclamation, Early Voting has been extended for an additional week and will run from October 13th – October 30th.
The elections administrator would also like to remind people of the different voting options which are available.
- Absentee Voting: Absentee voting or voting by mail is available to anyone who qualifies. Check out an application online for details.
- Early Voting: Voting in person at the Houston County Senior Citizens Center October 13th – 30th.
- Voting on Election Day: November 3rd at the voters designated voting precinct location.
For those voters with disabilities, election officials will allow for curbside voting. Curbside voting is available at the polling locations to voters who have a physical disability which prevents them from safely entering the polling location. Those who have symptoms of or have been around someone who has be medically diagnosed with COVID-19 are encouraged to use curbside voting. Simply honk your horn twice or flag down a poll worker to assist you.
There is also what is known as voter order priority. This is for those voters who have a mobility problem which substantially impairs the person’s ability to move around. Voters with this issue may request to be move to the front of the check-in line.
In addition, every polling location has at least one ADA compliant ballot marking device. These machines are designed for voters who may be hearing or visually impaired and can read the ballot to you in English and/or Spanish. You may also receive assistance from a poll worker or bring your own assistant with you to vote.
Lum stated, “General elections with presidential candidates on the ballot tend to have larger than average turn-out. Voters should expect long lines and extended wait times due to continued COVID-19 protocols, a no straight party option and a long list of elected positions. Voters may download or review a sample ballot in advance. To cut down on the extra time you may need in the booth, make a personal list of your candidate choices to bring with you to vote.”
She added, “We encourage voters to take advantage of Early Voting and avoid the long lines on Election Day. Voters will still be asked to maintain social distancing, wear a face covering and to sanitize their hands before and after entering the polling location.”
The last to register to vote is Oct. 5 and the last day to apply for a ballot by mail is Oct. 23.
If you have any questions on whether or not you are registered to vote, how to register to vote or to download an application for ballot by mail, please check out www.votetexas.gov or the Houston County website www.co.houston.tx.us/page/houston.Elections.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.