Voting In a Pandemic: What San Antonians Need to Know

Oct. 5, 2020 is the last day to register to vote in San Antonio, Texas.

Social justice, homelessness, education, how our country handles COVID-19 and many other issues that directly impact our local community are on the ballot in some form in every election at every level.

It doesn’t help much to have a stance on those issues if you can’t turn them into action. That’s why it’s imperative that every San Antonian register to vote in this year’s election.

Amid a pandemic, actually voting will be easier said than done, but it’s crucial that we all participate. How you choose to vote depends on your situation, and mail-in ballots may be among your options.

This year’s election will be historical in many senses, here’s what San Antonians need to know about voting this year.

How to Register

You can register to vote online or you can call the Bexar County registrar’s office at 210-335-8683 and ask for a registration form to be sent to you.

According to the state elections website, to register you must:

  • Be a United States citizen.

  • Be a Texas resident.

  • Be 18 years old or older by election day.

  • Have no felony convictions.

If you’ve recently moved from one Bexar County location to another, you can update your registration information.

If you want to mail in your ballot, you have to apply at least 11 days before the election, so try to get it in by Friday, Oct. 23 if you plan to vote in the Nov. 3 election.

Here are the cases when you can mail in a ballot:

  • You’re 65 or older.

  • You’re disabled.

  • You’re going to be out of the county on election day and during early voting.

  • You’re going to be in jail, but otherwise eligible.

If You’re Concerned About Voting In Person Because of COVD-19:

While the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a lack of immunity to the virus doesn’t meet the criteria for a mail-in ballot, it also said election clerks don’t have to investigate the disability people claim on a mail-in application.

This year, early voting in Texas starts 6 days early. It normally starts 17 days before the election, so it will begin Oct. 13.

Here are some tips to avoid getting too close for comfort to your fellow voters:

  • Go early if you can. Texas employers are required to give employees paid time off if they don’t have two consecutive hours outside of work. If you can, avoid weekends by going in the morning or daytime on weekdays.

  • Keep your distance. Some polling places in Bexar County are small, but when you stand in line, make sure your neighbors are at least six feet from you, so you aren’t breathing on each other.

  • Wear a mask. Masks are encouraged by the CDC and required in Bexar County. They help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

What You Need to Vote

Voters are required to show a form of identification to vote in Texas. Here are the types of identifications that will be accepted:

  • Texas driver’s license

  • Texas election ID certificate

  • Texas personal ID card

  • Texas handgun license

  • U.S. citizen certificate with photo

  • U.S. military ID card with photo

  • U.S. passport book or card

If you don’t have any of those identification cards, you can also use:

  • A certified domestic birth certificate or court admissible birth document.

  • A current utility bill.

  • A bank statement.

  • A government check.

  • A paycheck.

Call 1-800-252-8683 to confirm that what you plan to use will qualify.

Once you’re ready to vote

Once you’ve registered and know you’ll have what you need to vote, register your friends, neighbors and family members.

You can fill out this form to join Uniting Wisdom’s Voter Registration Street Team to help register more people in our community, or you can donate to Uniting Wisdom to help us get the resources we need to get San Antonians to the ballots.

SEE MORE: Are you registered to vote? Check here.