Between alarming unemployment rates, presidential debates and the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, you may feel motivated to have your opinions heard through our electoral process. Even though Election Day, Nov. 3, is fast approaching, you still have until Monday, Oct. 5, to register to vote, either in-person, by mail or, in some cases, online.
Any U.S. citizen who is 18 or older, registered to vote and not a convicted felon has the right to vote. You can prepare by viewing and filling out a sample ballot, which you’re allowed to bring with you to polling stations during early voting and on Election Day.
If you’re uncertain about your registration status, check it by visiting the Bexar County website.
Here’s what you need to know about registering to vote:
In-person registration: Visit the Bexar County Elections office, located at 1103 S. Frio St., Suite 100, to register.
Mail-in: Voters mailing in their registration must first fill out a voter registration form, then print, sign and mail it to the elections office; all mail-in registrations must be postmarked Oct. 5.
“We say it’s sort of like the IRS when it’s Tax Day,” said Jacque Callanen, Bexar County Elections Administrator, during a press conference Sept. 21. “Just make sure it’s postmarked by that day and we will process it.”
Registering by mail does not mean voters are eligible for mail-in ballots.
Online: For the first time in Texas, you also have the ability to register online when renewing your driver’s license. When renewing online, you will be asked if you wish to be registered to vote, similar to questions asked when renewing in-person.
This new online method was updated Sept. 23 in response to U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s second ruling stating Texas violated registration laws by not allowing voters online registration options.
Voter registration and turnout: Leading up to the deadline, local organizations and activist groups like MOVE Texas and the San Antonio chapter of the League of Texas Voters hosted events to make it easier for members of the community to register.
In 2018, there were 1,073,320 registered voters in Bexar County according to the Texas Secretary of State website; of those voters, only 551,073 cast their ballots in the elections. As of Sept. 21, Callanen said there were now 1,162,040 registered voters in the county.
What's at stake: In addition to voting for the leader of the free world, San Antonio residents will decide U.S. Senate races, U.S. House races at the national level. In Texas, the state railroad commissioner and chief justice for the Supreme Court of Texas will be decided. County positions up for election include sheriff, district judges and the tax assessor-collector.
The ballot also includes voting on Proposition B, the reallocation of funds from the ⅛-cent sales tax. Currently, the funding serves the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program (EAPP); if voted through, the funding would transfer to a workforce development program called Ready to Work, which is a job training and scholarships program that is intended to serve up to 40,000 people whose jobs were eliminated or cut during the pandemic.
San Antonio Independent School District’s Propositions A and B, both proposed property tax increases, will also be voted on. If passed, Proposition A will issue school building bonds to the district for school building construction and upgrades, and Proposition B will issue technology bonds to acquire better technology for schools in the district.
The Alamo Community Colleges District, Somerset Independent School District, South San Antonio Independent School District and others are also electing trustees during this election.
Brigid Cooley is a Heron intern this fall. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, where she also serves as editor-in-chief of The Mesquite newspaper. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @brigidelise1 on Twitter