Have you registered to vote yet? If not, time is of the essence! 

Monday, Oct. 5, is the last day to register to vote in the state of Texas to be eligible to vote in this year’s general election. In order to register, you will need to print and fill out an application, and either mail it or drop it off at the El Paso County Registrar of Voters. 

If you are unsure whether your registration is up to date, you can fill out the “Am I Registered?” prompt on the EP County Votes website to find out. 

Significant safety precautions have been taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said El Paso County Elections Administrator Lisa Wise.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that if you don’t qualify for ballot by mail or choose not to vote that way, that you’ll have a safe voting experience,” she said. 

Voting by mail

Although there have been some conflicting reports about voting by mail rules in Texas, the qualifications for a mail-in ballot have not changed.

According to the El Paso County Elections department, you are eligible to vote early by mail in Texas if you are a registered voter who is:

  • 65 years of age or older 
  • Out of the county on Election Day and during the period of early voting by personal appearance (must provide out of county address) 
  • Sick or disabled 
  • Confined in jail, but eligible to vote 

Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent order to limit the number of mail-in ballot drop-off locations does not affect El Paso voters. The elections office has only planned one such location, at the El Paso County Courthouse, 500 E. San Antonio Ave. Voters with mail ballots can either mail in the ballot or drop it off at the courthouse. The ballot itself will have instructions for how to return it. 

If a voter wants to drop off rather than mail their ballot, they must do so in person at the courthouse. Here are the drop-off hours and other instructions from the elections office.

Abbott’s decision to limit mail-in ballot drop-off locations has prompted calls of attempted voter suppression. Texas has been a solid red state for the past several decades, but is now being considered a key battleground for this election

Friday, Oct. 23, is the last day to apply for a ballot by mail (received, not postmarked).

Early voting

Early voting runs Oct. 13-30.

  • For early voting, voters can choose from 35 voting locations throughout the city. They do not have to go to a specific polling place based on their address
  • Lines will likely be shorter when voting early, making social distancing easier 

It is not necessary to bring your voter ID card with you in order to vote, you just need to bring a valid photo ID

COVID-19 precautions at polling places

Wise said extensive measures are being undertaken to ensure voter safety at polling places. 

COVID-19 precautions include:

  • All voting machines positioned six feet apart from one another
  • Poll workers required to wear mask and face shield
  • Disposable styluses for voting, reducing touch points throughout voting process
  • Sanitizer/disinfectant at every voting location
  • Voting area wiped down after every voter
  • Social distancing incorporated into voting location layout planning, painters tape to demarcate a socially distanced path
  • Vote Safe Kits: all voters will be given a kit with hand wipes, disposable marking utensil, finger cot and a sticker
  • Curbside voting: if a voter cannot enter the polling site “without personal assistance or likelihood of injuring the voter’s health,” they can request to have a ballot delivered to them curbside

Curbside voting

Wise said that curbside voting will be available in early and election day voting at all locations. 

Additionally, she specified that there will be seven express curbside locations throughout the county. These express locations “will be more like drive-through voting as there will be a crew already outside with all of the supplies and processing voters as they drive up,” Wise said.

Express curbside voting locations:

  • Arlington Park Shelter
  • Bassett Place
  • El Paso County Coliseum
  • Marty Robbins Rec Center
  • Officer David Ortiz Rec Center
  • Oz Glaze Senior Center
  • Sunland Park Mall

Election Day

Voters can vote at any vote center on election day, Nov. 3. This is different from past elections, when Election Day voters were required to cast ballots at their assigned precinct. The El Paso County Elections Office website has a tool for finding the vote center closest to you.

What’s on the ballot?

You’ve likely heard a fair bit about the candidates for president of the United States, a race which will be decided in this November’s election.

However, there are many important races that will be decided in the November election beyond the presidency. These include United States Senate, El Paso mayor, and several seats on the El Paso City Council.

El Paso Matters will soon publish an updated voters’ guide with detailed questionnaire responses from many of the candidates in the November El Paso local races. 

René Kladzyk is a freelance reporter who also performs music as Ziemba. Follow her on Twitter @ziembavision.