U.S. Justice Department will again have election monitors in Texas
Federal monitors will be on the ground in Harris, Dallas and Waller counties on Election Day as part of the department’s regular deployment for major elections.
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The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday it will send election monitors to three Texas counties — Harris, Dallas and Waller — to keep an eye on local compliance with federal voting rights laws on Election Day.
Monitors from the Justice Department are regularly deployed across the country for major elections, with Texas counties making the list for at least the past decade under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The three Texas counties are among 64 jurisdictions in 24 states that will have a federal presence Tuesday.
The announcement of the monitors comes ahead of an Election Day shrouded by increasing concerns over voter intimidation, though there have been few, if any, reports of major concern so far in Texas where nearly 5.5 million voters have already cast their ballots.
Voting FAQ: 2022 midterms
How do I know if I'm registered to vote?
The deadline to register to vote in the 2022 primary election was Oct. 11. Check if you’re registered to vote here.
When can I vote?
Election day is Nov. 8. Early voting ended Nov. 4.
How do I know if I qualify to vote by mail?
This option is fairly limited in Texas. You’re allowed to vote by mail only if: You will be 65 or older by Election Day, you will not be in your county for the entire span of voting, including early voting, you cite a sickness or disability that prevents you from voting in person without needing personal assistance or without the likelihood of injuring your health, you’re expected to give birth within three weeks before or after Election Day or you are confined in jail but otherwise eligible (i.e., not convicted of a felony).
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.
How can I find which polling places are near me?
County election offices are supposed to post on their websites information on polling locations for Election Day and during the early-voting period by Oct. 18. The secretary of state’s website will also have information on polling locations closer to the start of voting. However, polling locations may change, so be sure to check your county’s election website before going to vote.
What form of ID do I need to bring to vote?
You’ll need one of seven types of valid photo ID to vote in Texas: A state driver’s license, a Texas election identification certificate, a Texas personal identification card, a Texas license to carry a handgun, a U.S. military ID card with a personal photo, a U.S. citizenship certificate with a personal photo or a U.S. passport. Voters can still cast votes without those IDs if they sign a form swearing that they have a “reasonable impediment” from obtaining a proper photo ID or use a provisional ballot. Find more details here.
What can I do if I have trouble voting?
You can contact your county elections official or call the Texas Secretary of State's helpline at 1-800-252-VOTE (8683). A coalition of voting rights groups is also helping voters navigate election concerns through the 866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683) voter-protection helpline. The coalition also has hotlines available in other languages and for Texans with disabilities.
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The department did not specify how it made its selections for monitoring, though Harris and Waller counties have made the list in the last four presidential and midterm elections. Harris County has recently been the site of electoral catastrophes such as the 2020 presidential primary when voters at a polling place on the Texas Southern University campus — one of the nation’s largest historically Black colleges — were left waiting six hours to cast their ballots.
Rural Waller County is home to Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black campus, where generations of students have been caught up in the long struggle for voting rights. The latest chapter of that struggle began in 2018 when a group of students sued the county over a lopsided early voting schedule that offered students — most of them Black — fewer opportunities to vote early than the county’s white residents. Following the suit, the county’s commissioner court extended hours at an on-campus polling place, though a federal judge ruled years later that the county had not discriminated against the students.
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Harris and Dallas are also the state’s largest and second-largest counties and home to large populations of Black and Latino voters.
The department has routinely dispatched monitors into the field since the passage of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was meant to equalize access to voting and outlaw discriminatory voting practices. Texas history is pockmarked by efforts to disenfranchise people of color, from the time of “white primaries” and poll taxes to more contemporary examples like the state’s original strict photo ID law, which lawmakers were forced to revise after a federal judge found it intentionally discriminated against Latino and Black voters who were less likely to have one of the seven forms of ID needed to vote.
The fleet of monitors generally includes lawyers from the department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices as well as employees from the Office of Personnel Management, who are authorized to serve as monitors by federal court order. Voters can send complaints on possible violations of federal law to the DOJ through its website or by calling 800-253-3931. Polls open at 7 a.m. on Election Day.
Disclosure: Prairie View A&M University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
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