Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the most common questions receive by the Office of the
Secretary of State.
The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below have been compiled with the April 3, 2012 Primary Election in mind. Please take a moment to review these pages, as you may find the answers to questions of your own. We encourage you to explore our website for more detailed information on elections and voting in Texas. Note: Questions and answers are grouped in categories and links to additional information are provided when needed.
- I’m not sure if I’m registered; how can I confirm my voter registration status?
- I'm not registered, but want to vote in the April Primary Election. How can I be sure that I'm registered in time to vote?
- If I send my registration by the deadline, what happens next?
- I am registered to vote, but I moved this past year. Is there anything I need to do to make sure that I won't have a problem voting in April?
- I don't remember seeing my voter registration certificate lately. Is that a problem? Don't I just stay registered?
- I am reviewing this page and nothing makes sense to me. These are not the rules I have heard. I'm in a state other than Texas -- does that matter?
- Who is eligible to vote early? What are the dates for voting early in person?
- Where do I go to vote?
- Can anybody vote early by mail (once referred to as absentee voting)?
- I fall under one of the four reasons above. What do I do now? Are there deadlines connected with this procedure?
- It's Election Day, April 3, 2012, and I'm registered and ready to vote. Where do I go? What are the hours for voting on Election Day?
- Does a voter have to vote in the main election in order to vote in a runoff-election?
Checking Voter Registration Status, Getting Registered for the First Time, or Making Changes to Your Current Registration
1. I’m not sure if I’m registered; how can I confirm my voter registration status?
A: You can confirm your registration status by going to Am I Registered?, where you can select one of three methods for conducting your search. You can search using your: 1.Voter Unique Identifier (VUID), which appears on your voter registration certificate; 2. Texas driver's license number, if you provided it when you applied for voter registration; or 3. First and last name. Or, you can call the voter registrar’s office in the county where you reside. To find the number, review the list of County Voter Registration Officials.
2. I'm not registered, but want to vote in the April Primary Election. How can I be sure that I'm registered in time to vote?
A: The deadline to register and be eligible to vote in the April 3, 2012 Primary Election is March 5, 2012. This can be either the postmark date on an application or the date the application is received in the voter registrar’s office of the applicant’s county of residence. You may, of course, register at any time before March 5 to ensure that your registration is effective for voting in April. Please contact your county voter registrar’s office for a postage-paid voter registration application. You may also download an informal application from our website.
3. If I send my registration by the deadline, what happens next?
A: Your voter registration becomes effective 30 days after it is submitted (and accepted*) by the county voter registrar. The county offices will then put your name on the voter registration list, generate your voter certificate, and mail the certificate to you. Once received, be sure to read the information on the back of the certificate, sign by the X on the "front" of the card (the yellow area) and keep your voter card in a safe place.
*If your original application is missing required information, you will receive a notice in the mail and be given a deadline by which to respond to the notice.
4. I am registered to vote, but I moved this past year. Is there anything I need to do to make sure that I won't have a problem voting in April?
A: If you moved “within the same county” where you are currently registered, you must file the new address information in writing with your voter registrar OR you may submit the “in county" change online. The last day to make a change of address that will be effective for the March primary election is March 5, 2012. If you miss this deadline, you may return to your old precinct to vote. You will be required to complete a "statement of residence" confirming your new address in your new precinct.
A: If you moved to a “new county,” you must re-register in your new county of residence by March 5, 2012, to be eligible to vote in the April 3, 2012, Primary Election.
LIMITED BALLOT OPTION: If you moved to a new county and have not re-registered in the new county by the March 5, 2012, deadline, you may be eligible to vote a limited ballot in your new county. A limited ballot means that you are allowed to vote on any candidates and measures in common between your former and new county. You must be a current registered voter in your former county or were a registered voter in your new county at the time you submitted your voter registration application in order to qualify. You may not vote a limited ballot on Election Day. For full information on this procedure, go to Special Forms of Early Voting. If you feel you qualify to vote a limited ballot, we recommend that you contact the office of the Early Voting Clerk in your new county: Early Voting Clerk for State and County Elections.
5. I don't remember seeing my voter registration certificate lately. Is that a problem? Don't I just stay registered?
A: New certificates are mailed out every two years to the most recent address on file with the voter registrar. If you do not recall receiving a new yellow and white certificate in early 2012, it could mean that you have moved without updating your address, or there is some other problem with your registration. If the certificate was mailed to an old address and it was returned to the registrar, you were placed on the "suspense list" in that county. This means you have a grace period that allows you to vote in your old precinct. If you do not vote, your name will be removed from the rolls after two federal elections have passed since you were placed on the suspense list. If you did not receive your certificate because you moved to a new Texas county, you will need to re-register.
6. I am reviewing this page and nothing makes sense to me. These are not the rules I have heard. I'm in a state other than Texas -- does that matter?
A: If you are visiting our website from another state, please remember that each state has slightly different rules. These rules describe Texas state law and are intended for voters who consider their permanent home to be in Texas and want to vote a Texas ballot. If you arrived at this page through a search engine and you need another state's election law, check the National Association of Secretaries of State page for other state websites.
Voting Early - Election Day Voting
7. Who is eligible to vote early? What are the dates for voting early in person?
A: Any registered voter may vote early by personal appearance (in person). Early voting by personal appearance for the April 3, 2012, Primary Election begins on March 19, 2012, and ends on March 30, 2012. You may vote at any early voting location in your county of registration.
8. Where do I go to vote?
You can find early voting locations by using our search site Am I Registered?, which will be populated with voting sites a few days before early voting begins. Or, you may want to contact the Early Voting Clerk for State and County Elections in your county. Also, many newspapers publish early voting polling locations.
9. Can anybody vote early by mail (once referred to as absentee voting)?
A: Only specific reasons entitle a registered voter to vote early by mail (no longer called absentee voting). You may request a ballot by mail if you:
- will be away from your county on Election Day and during early voting;
- are sick or disabled;
- are 65 years of age or older on Election Day; or
- are confined in jail.
10. I fall under one of the four reasons above. What do I do now? Are there deadlines connected with this procedure?
A: First, request an Application for Ballot by Mail (ABBM) from the Early Voting Clerk in your county of registration, or from our office. Once received, read the instructions carefully, complete the ABBM form and return to the Early Voting Clerk. The dates applicable to the April 3, 2012 Primary Election are as follows: the first day you may submit an ABBM for the general primary or for both the primary and the primary runoff is February 3, 2012; the last day (or deadline) to submit an ABBM is March 27, 2012---this is NOT A POSTMARK DATE---the ABBM must be RECEIVED IN THE OFFICE OF THE EARLY VOTING CLERK by March 27, 2012, in order for you to receive a ballot by mail.
11. It's Election Day, April 3, 2012, and I'm registered and ready to vote. Where do I go? What are the hours for voting on Election Day?
A: You can find your precinct voting location by using our search site Am I Registered?, which will be populated with voting sites well before Election Day. Or, you may want to contact the elections official in your county of registration. Also, many newspapers publish Election Day polling locations.
Election Day voting hours are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at all polling places statewide.
12. Does a voter have to vote in the primary election in order to vote in a runoff-election?
A: A voter does not have to vote in the primary election in order to vote in a run-off election. This is prescribed in Section 11.001 of the Texas Election Code.
Provisional voting is designed to allow a voter whose name does not appear on the list of registered voters due to an administrative error to vote. The voter must complete an affidavit stating the reasons he or she is qualified to vote. Provisional voting is only used if the voter cannot qualify to vote by the methods described above. Important points are: (1) the cast provisional ballots are kept separately from the regular ballots; and (2) the voter’s registration record will be reviewed later by the provisional voting ballot board (the early voting ballot board) and is counted only if the voter is determined to be a registered voter and is otherwise qualified to vote. Provisional voters will receive a notice in the mail by the 10th day after the local canvass advising them if their provisional ballots were counted, and if they were not counted, the reason why.
Military & Overseas Voters
Military and overseas voters are welcome to use the regular registration and early voting by mail process available to all voters away from their home county on Election Day. However, there are also special provisions for military and overseas voters.
Voters with Special Needs
Please read our special needs information to ensure that you are fully informed on the available services.
Student voters often seek advice regarding residency issues for voter registration purposes. For more information, please read Information regarding student residency issues.
We also have FAQS on Student Election Clerks.
Convicted Felons and Voting
In Texas, a convicted felon regains the right to vote after completing his or her sentence. Therefore, once a convict completes the punishment phase (including any term of incarceration, parole, or supervision, or completed a period of probation ordered by the court), the convict is eligible to register and vote in the state of Texas.
For information on the local option liquor petition and election process in Texas, please review our office’s educational materials.
For information on registered political parties in Texas, please contact those organizations directly:
We have information located in various sections of our website – "Voter Information," "Candidates," and "Conducting Your Elections" (for election administrators), just to name a few. You will notice that some information is repeated in different places; our hope is to gear each section to the audience for easier bookmarking and future use.
Should you need additional information, please email or call us at 1-800-252-VOTE (8683).