Texas voters Tuesday will decide 10 proposed state constitutional amendments. Some will cast ballots in three special elections for Texas House seats. And Houstonians will weigh in on a heated mayoral race in the state’s largest city.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Texans can check their voting location on the Texas secretary of state’s voter information website.
Here’s a look at the proposed amendments and biggest races being decided.
One of the statewide ballot's 10 propositions would make it harder for future lawmakers to enact a personal income tax. Proposition 4 would require two-thirds of the House and Senate and a majority of Texas voters to establish such a tax. Right now, a majority of both chambers and a majority of voters could enact an income tax.
Proposition 5 would send all revenue from the sporting goods sales tax toward the state Parks and Wildlife Department and the Historical Commission. It is meant to create a steady revenue stream for the state’s parks.
Voting in Texas
When was the last day to register to vote?
The deadline to register to vote in the 2020 general election was Oct. 5. Check if you’re registered to vote here. If not, you’ll need to fill out and submit an application, which you can request here or download here.
When can I vote early?
Early voting for the 2020 general election runs from Oct. 13 to Oct. 30. Voters can cast ballots at any polling location in the county where they are registered to vote during early voting. Election Day is Nov. 3.
How will voting be different because of the pandemic?
In general, polling locations will have guidelines in place for social distancing and regular cleaning. Several counties will offer ballot marking devices so voters avoid contact with election equipment. Poll workers will likely be wearing face masks and other protective equipment, but masks will not be required for voters.
How do I know if I qualify to vote by mail?
Texas is one of just a few states that hasn’t opened up mail-in voting to any voter concerned about getting COVID-19 at a polling place. You can find eligibility requirements and review other questions about voting by mail here.
Are polling locations the same on Election Day as they are during early voting?
Not always. You’ll want to check for open polling locations with your local elections office before you head out to vote. Additionally, you can confirm with your county elections office whether Election Day voting is restricted to locations in your designated precinct or if you can cast a ballot at any polling place.
Can I still vote if I have COVID-19?
Yes. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are exhibiting symptoms, consider requesting an emergency mail-in ballot or using curbside voting. Contact your county elections office for more details about both options.
See our voter guide
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Proposition 10 would allow retired law enforcement animals to be adopted by their handlers, ending a requirement that the animals, as government property, be sold or destroyed when no longer in use.
Other propositions would allow the Legislature to create temporary property tax exemptions for people with property damaged in governor-declared disaster areas, let lawmakers double the maximum amount of bonds issued on behalf of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and create a flood infrastructure fund that the Texas Water Development Board could use to finance projects following a disaster.
Read about all 10 propositions here.
Three vacant Texas House seats
Some voters will also cast ballots to fill three vacant Texas House seats. Democrats are trying to flip the Houston-area House District 28 seat vacated by former state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond. They see the race as a harbinger of their 2020 prospects for winning a majority in the lower chamber. Six Republicans and one Democrat are running for the Fort Bend County district.
Two special elections are slated in reliably Democratic districts. The House District 100 race to replace former state Rep. Eric Johnson, who is now Dallas’ mayor, features four Democrats. A fifth Democrat, Paul Stafford, will appear on the ballot, but has ended his campaign.
There’s a more crowded race to replace former state Rep. Jessica Farrar in Houston’s House District 148. That contest has 12 Democrats, two Republicans and an independent candidate vying for the seat.
A dramatic Houston mayoral race
Houston voters also have a heated mayoral race to decide. Incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner faces 11 challengers in his bid for a second term. Four are seen as viable to varying degrees: swashbuckling attorney Tony Buzbee, who has self-funded his campaign to the tune of $10 million; Bill King, the businessman who narrowly lost to Turner in the 2015 mayoral contest; Dwight Boykins, a city council member; and Sue Lovell, a former council member.
The race has not lacked for drama. Turner’s challengers have found ample fodder for attacks, targeting him over the city’s finances, crime and post-Harvey flood mitigation efforts. The latest flashpoint has been a TV news report that Turner approved a $95,000-a-year airport internship, initially denying he knew the man hired despite evidence to the contrary.
With so many candidates, Turner could be forced into a runoff. Two public surveys in the race give Turner a wide lead over Buzbee, but not enough to clear 50% and win outright. Around one-fifth of voters were undecided in each survey.