Hey, Curious Campus: Early voting starts Monday. What do I need to know?

Megan Menchaca

For months, candidates have been campaigning in Texas for dozens of statewide and local positions.

The first ballots for all of these positions, from the U.S Senate seat to railroad commissioner, will be cast on Oct. 22 — the beginning of the early voting period.

So, when one of readers asked us, “How do I vote early?” we looked into it as part of Curious Campus, our series where we answer reader-submitted questions every week.

You can vote early at the Flawn Academic Center and the Perry-Castañeda Library, which students leaders worked to opened on Sept. 18 because of long wait times at the Flawn Academic Center.

But if you would rather vote somewhere off campus, Travis County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir said students can also cast their ballot at any of the other polling locations in Travis County.

“The main difference between election day and early voting used to be that with early voting you could go to any of the early voting locations but on Election Day you had to go to just the location that was specific to your neighborhood or your precinct,” Debeauvoir said. “But now, there's virtually no difference.”

Selina Eshraghi, Hook the Vote director for UT Student Government, said one of the benefits of early voting is avoiding the long lines at polling locations on Election Day.

“The other big benefit is once you've voted, the fact that you've cast a vote becomes public information,” Eshraghi said. “If you've ever been bothered by campaign texts and calls, it should simmer down after you vote.”

To vote in the election, you’ll need one of the seven forms of photo ID, including either a Texas Driver License, Texas Personal Identification Card or a U.S. Passport. The Secretary of State’s office also recommends that voters bring their voter registration card.

“If for some reason you don't feel like you are registered to vote, it doesn't hurt to check your registration,” Eshraghi said. “But the most important thing for someone to do before heading to the polls is to become an educated voter.”

Kathleen Doviken, University Democrats communications director, said her organization will be on West Mall answering any questions student have and helping students find polling locations during the early voting period.

“I recommend looking up a sample ballot … and filling out a ballot to print and take to the polls so that you can ensure your choices are correct,” Doviken said. “If people do not have time for this, I at least recommend reviewing the propositions and city races that are not affected by straight ticket voting.”

Debeauvoir said everyone should make sure they make a deliberate plan to vote early.

“I can say all day long that every vote counts, but you can see it yourself in who gets elected to office,” Debeauvoir said. “It absolutely makes a big difference because of the policies that will get implemented.”

To vote early in Texas, you must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 by Election Day and not a convicted felon. The last day to early vote is Nov. 2. and Election Day is Nov. 6.