Voting in Texas can be hard. But thanks to the hard work and commitment from advocates and community members across the state, we’re seeing great ideas for how to vote safely in a pandemic, and have a little fun with it too.
So I decided to gather up some of the best ideas I’ve heard during this election season. Keep reading for my top 8 ways to vote in Texas this year!
1. Getcha Head in the Game
Our friends at MOVE Texas helped the Spurs register Texans earlier this year. Thanks to the NBA Players Union, we all have a chance to get out on the court and vote. Whether you’re loyal to the Spurs, the Mavs, or the Rockets, you’ll be able to vote in the hallowed halls of your favorite arena in 2020. Even us Houston Texans fans can ease our 0-1 pain by voting at NRG Park this fall. All of these locations will be open for Early Voting Oct. 13-30 and on Election Day Nov. 3.
2. Chill in the RGV, Thanks to Mr. Freeze
If you’re voting in Cameron County (which is the very bottom tip of Texas, where Harlingen and Brownsville are), your ballot is brought to you in part by the Terminator. Last week, movie star/climate activist/bodybuilder/former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he would be giving money to counties across the US to help fund voting supercenters. His first grant went to our very own Cameron County, and Arnold himself showed up to Commissioners Court to announce it! If you vote at one of these new supercenters, we bet you’ll be back.
3. What’s Appenin’
Thanks to Twitter and podcasts, I have a real love-hate relationship with my phone. But in El Paso, there’s more to love, because you can find out everything you need to know from their Elections app! You can see if you’re registered, find your nearest early voting location, look up your precinct location, and get all of your voting questions answered, all without looking up from your phone. Download it at the Apple Store or the Google Play Store.
4. Voting the Night Away
If you’re a night owl in the Houston area, grab your sample ballot and head to NRG Arena, the Kashmere Gardens Multi-Service Center, the McGovern Texas Medical Center Commons, the East Harris County Activity Center, the Tracy Gee Community Center, or Juergen’s Hall Community Center and Victory Gardens. At those locations, you’ll be able to cast a ballot at any hour from 7AM on Oct. 29 to 7PM on Oct. 30. This is one kind of nightlife that COVID can’t take from us!
5. Take a Look, It’s in a Book
With COVID shutting down planes and turning our passports into really expensive coasters, there’s no easier way to travel than in a good book. And while you’re picking one up, how about stopping in to vote? Cast a ballot for president and then grab a copy of We Were Eight Years in Power, or vote for candidates who support criminal injustice reform and then snag The Hate U Give, or do your civic duty and then escape into romance with The Wedding Date. Almost every Texas county has at least one library polling location. Check yours out!
6. Fast & Furious: Democracy Drift
One of my great passions in life is staying in my car. I love grabbing two large tacos from Taco Casa and a Braums ice cream cone and a Route 44 Dr. Pepper from Sonic, all without wearing shoes. This year, my fourth stop on that trip could be voting! In Harris County, you can drive-through vote at the Toyota Center, Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, the Houston Food Bank, the NRG Arena, the HCC West Loop South Campus, the John Phelps Courthouse, Kingdom Builders Center, Fallbrook Church, the Humble Civic Center, and the HCC Alief Center Campus. I used a drive-through voting center in the primary run-off and it was easy, quick, and safe. Plus—and I cannot stress this enough—I didn’t have to get out of my car. It was marvelous.
7. Sign, Seal, & Deliver
Speaking of staying in your car, if you’re voting by mail but still want to hand in the ballot yourself, you can go to your county clerk’s office. But if you want to do so from the comfort of your driver’s seat, Travis County is offering you a place to do just that! At the Travis County Tax office, you can be your own mailman by driving up and handing in your mail-in ballot to county officials yourself. Houstonians can do the same at the NRG Arena in Houston! Feel free to dress up as a mailman to really get in the spirit.
8. I Don’t Wanna Wait for Our Lines to Be Over
Like most Texans, your life is busy! Maybe you want to go to the closest polling place, or maybe you just want to vote where there’s the shortest wait. Never fear! Lots of counties have an interactive map, and some even have a wait time tracker! Here are the links for wait time trackers or location maps in Harris, Dallas, Bexar, Tarrant, Travis, or El Paso. Google your county to see if you have a wait time map of your own!
These are just a few of the innovations that counties have made in Texas this year. Are there creative ways your county is helping voters this year? How are you going to cast your ballot? Let us know in the comments!
Special thanks to Alex Birnel from MOVE Texas for his help. Emily Eby is a voting rights staff attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project.