Election Day guide: Everything you need to know before heading to the polls Nov. 3

Election Day is Tuesday, but you may have some questions before you head to the polls.

The Harris County Clerk has set up a “frequently asked questions” section on HarrisVotes.com where you can get lots of answers to common voting questions.

Here are some of the most-asked questions about voting and the answers to each of them:

What is straight-party voting?

This is the practice of casting a vote for all candidates of the same political party by selecting the “straight party” option on a ballot. This option is not available in Texas after state lawmakers voted in 2017 to eliminate the option starting in 2020.

When will polling locations be open?

On Election Day, the polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Click here for a list of polling locations in Harris County. You can find polling places for other counties in the Houston area here.

Am I eligible to vote?

Anyone who is registered to vote is eligible to cast a ballot on Election Day. In Texas, you must be registered to vote 30 days before the election. You can check the status of your voter registration on the Texas Secretary of State’s website or by calling your county election office.

Can I vote on Election Day if I did not vote in the primary?

Yes. A voter does not have to vote in a primary or primary runoff to vote in a general election.

What contests will I see on the ballot?

At the federal level, the biggest race, of course, is for president. The second-biggest federal race in Texas is for U.S. Senate. Some voters will also be voting for who will represent them in the U.S. House.

At the state level, the races include state Senate, state House, state Supreme Court and Texas Railroad Commission.

Voters will also be selecting judges for all levels of the court system.

In some cities and towns across the Houston area, voters will also be picking their mayor and councilmembers or aldermen.

Some propositions are also on the ballot for some voters.

A sample ballot can be obtained at your county election office. Harris County voters can find their sample ballots here.

Do I have to vote for the same political party I voted for in the primary election?

No. Only primary elections are partisan.

Are there things I can do to protect myself at the polls when it comes to coronavirus?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to protect yourself at the poll is to practice social-distance, maintain good hand hygiene, avoid touching your face and wear a face covering. The CDC also recommends you not wipe down voting equipment yourself as some cleaners and disinfectants can damage the electronics.

Click here for more detailed information on staying safe at the polls.

What steps will the polling places be taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus?

Harris County started an initiative to help people feel confident and safe when going out to vote called the “S.A.F.E” initiative.

Some of the steps taken include:

  • Providing PPE to poll workers.
  • Promoting and maximizing mail-in voting “within the bounds of the law.”
  • Increase the number of polling locations and polling machines.
  • Accurately reporting wait times.
  • Optimizing the ballot layout to allow voters to cast their votes more quickly.

You can find the complete initiative and list of steps at Harrisvotes.com/SAFE.

If there are issues at the poll, who do I call?

If you experience an issue while in the voting booth, you should press the “help” button on the voting machine or notify the election staff. We’ve put together a full list of what you should do here.

Have any other questions about voting? Send them to us using the form below.

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