Early voters walk to the polling site at Lions Field. Photo by Scott Ball.
Early voting begins throughout Bexar County on Monday. Credit: Scott Ball / Rivard Report / File Photo - 2016

Monday marks the start of a two-week early voting period in the delayed primary runoff. While runoffs are typically low-turnout elections, a local surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations could keep even more voters from going to the polls.

At stake for Democrats is the nominee for a U.S. Senate seat, while Republicans in some local congressional districts will determine U.S. representative nominees. Other state legislative and county-level races also are on the ballot.

With recent court rulings preserving the state’s relatively narrow eligibility for mail-in voting, in-person voting likely will look somewhat different, with voters and election judges donning masks and pumping hand sanitizer. After Gov. Greg Abbott pushed the runoff scheduled for May to July 14, he added an extra week for early voting to avoid crowding at the polls.

Because runoffs typically draw far fewer voters than general elections, local election officials could use this election to gauge what safety precautions might be needed for the November general election. Although uncertainties remain about how prevalent the coronavirus will be then and whether mail-in voting rules will be relaxed, one thing is known: With a presidential election, turnout for that election will be heavy.

What’s on the ballot?

What you see on the ballot depends on what party’s primary runoff you’re voting in and in what part of Bexar County you live. The Republican ballot includes contests for U.S. representative, State Board of Education, and county commissioner. Democratic runoff voters may see a state senator, county commissioner, constable, or precinct chair race.

At the top of the ballot, Royce West and MJ Hegar are vying for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, with the winner taking on Republican incumbent John Cornyn. The other Democratic statewide race has Chrysta Castañeda and Roberto R. “Beto” Alonzo facing off for the railroad commissioner nomination. Both Republican and Democratic voters will see county political party chair candidates on their ballots.

You must vote in the same party primary in which you voted in March, but you may vote in the runoff even if you didn’t cast a ballot in March.

How can I determine if I’m registered to vote?

You can check your voter registration status here. All you need is your Voter ID number or Texas Driver License number, your name, county of residence, and date of birth.

When can I vote?

Early voting starts Monday, June 29, and ends Friday, July 10. Hours for early voting vary, and you can find details here. Election day is Tuesday, July 14. 

What do I need to bring with me to vote?

You need to provide one of the following seven forms of identification:

  • Texas Driver License issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas Personal Identification Card issued by DPS
  • Texas Handgun License issued by DPS
  • United States Military Identification Card containing your photograph
  • United States Citizenship Certificate containing your photograph
  • United States Passport (book or card)

If you don’t have one of the seven forms of identification listed above and can’t reasonably get one, you can bring one of these:

  • A copy or original of a government document that shows your name and an address, including your voter registration certificate;
  • A copy of or original current utility bill;
  • A copy of or original bank statement;
  • A copy of or original government check;
  • A copy of or original paycheck; or
  • A copy of or original of (a) a certified domestic (from a U.S. state or territory) birth certificate or (b) a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law that establishes your identity, which may include a foreign birth document.

If your name for some reason does not appear on the list of registered voters but you did register to vote in time, you can cast a provisional ballot.

Where can I vote?

There are 31 early voting sites, including the Bexar County Elections Department at 1103 S. Frio St. Find early voting locations and hours here. Polls are closed July 3 and July 4 but open on July 5. On election day, July 14, voters no longer are confined to specific precincts and can vote at any Bexar County polling location.

What about mail-in and absentee ballots?

The coronavirus pandemic has touched off legal fights about who should be eligible to vote by mail. The Texas Supreme Court determined in May that not having immunity to the novel coronavirus is not a “disability” and does not qualify a voter to cast a ballot by mail. But the court also said voters can consider their own health and health history to decide whether to apply to vote by mail due to disability.

You can vote by mail if you are:

  • Going to be away from your county on election day and during early voting
  • Sick or disabled
  • 65 years of age or older on election day
  • Confined in jail but eligible to vote

You can request an application for an absentee ballot from the elections department, or print one out here. Applications for absentee ballots must be received by the elections department by July 2. And for your vote to count, it must be received by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14.

Rivard Report Staff

Rivard Report Staff

This article was assembled by various members of the Rivard Report staff.