Election Day is approaching, and so are key deadlines. This election will look a little different in Texas with COVID-19 precautions and the absence of straight-ticket voting. Here are some things to look out for this October and on the Nov. 3 Election Day based on a presentation by the Texas secretary of state’s office and the League of Women Voters.


The deadline for voter registration was Oct. 5. To check on resident registration, check online here or on a local county website.

Early voting

Early voting is currently set to start Oct. 13 and run until Oct. 30. Locations and times vary by county, but many counties, including Collin, Denton and Dallas counties, offer real-time updated maps or lists to indicate wait times for polling locations on their websites. Tarrant County offers links to find the nearest polling place to a resident’s address.

Voters can vote at any location in their county for Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties, regardless of party affiliations. Locations and times for early voting vary by county.

Ballots by mail

The deadline to apply for a ballot by mail is Oct. 23. There are four possible eligibility requirements for voting by mail, including being away from your county on Election Day and during early voting, being sick or disabled, being 65 years of age or older on Election Day, or being confined in jail but eligible to vote, according to the state.

Ballots by mail must be postmarked by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3, and received no later than 5 p.m. Nov. 4. Ballots can be mailed by being dropped into the blue post boxes at any U.S. Postal Service office or can be postmarked by walking into a post office and requesting a stamp. They can also be mailed by FedEx and other reputable carriers.

Ballots may be hand-delivered to the county’s early-voting clerk’s office. Hand-delivered ballots must be turned in by the voter, who must show ID, as well as signing a roster confirming the ballot was hand-delivered. Counties have differing office locations, hours and final days for accepting hand-delivered ballots by mail, so check with the county’s website for more information.

There are some opportunities for voters to change their mind after receiving a ballot by mail to vote in person. In Dallas County, voters must bring the vote-by-mail ballot to a polling location during early voting or to the county office to surrender the ballot. The process can take some time, according to the League of Women Voters, but those who come without their ballot by mail must vote provisionally. Provisional votes are counted, just later in the election process.

Safety precautions for voting

Voters will be asked to stay 6 feet apart from one another in lines and in polling places, especially from those 65 years and older. Masks are not required in polling locations but are recommended by the Texas secretary of state's office.

There will be plexiglass between voters and election officials at in-person polling places during early voting and on Election Day.

Each polling location is expected to have hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and clean styluses, or items that can be used as styluses such as pencils and cotton swabs. Voters can bring their own styluses, gloves and pencils with erasers to place their ballots.

Voters are encouraged to wash or disinfect their hands when entering and leaving a polling place in addition to after interacting with people or using voting equipment.

Straight-ticket voting

Voters will not be able to select every candidate from their party in a single punch this year. The practice of straight-ticket voting was ended by a state law in 2017, and that law was upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in late September.

Instead, in-person voters will punch in a separate candidate for each race using the voting machine during early voting and on Election Day.

Assistance while voting

Curbside voting will also be available for those unable to enter a polling place. An accessible parking sign should be visible in the parking lot of a polling place, where a judge can assist or a number will be available to call for assistance.

The state secretary's office recommends those feeling any symptoms of COVID-19 to contact their county elections office for possible utilization of curbside voting. Counties are able to make those decisions on a case-by-case basis.

If a voter requires assistance to fill out a ballot in person, they are able to bring an assistant, or election officers can assist at a polling location.

More information

More information on early voting in specific counties can be found at each North Texas county’s elections website:

Information about state rules and guidelines can be found at the VoteTexas website; from the Texas secretary of state’s office; and Vote411, a website by the League of Women Voters.