The Brown-Lupton University Union will be a county early voting station from Monday through Friday next week. The hours of operation will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In the meantime, here are some tips if you are confused about how to vote.
For early voting on campus, students will need to bring their voter registration card and a photo ID. For voting stations in the area, most forms of photo identification will be taken, said Steve Raborn, Tarrant County elections administrator.
Early voting in Tarrant County started Oct. 20 and will last through the end of the month. If a student lives away from the campus or can’t make it to the BLUU in time, there are several locations in Fort Worth where students can vote early such as the Tarrant County Elections Center, the Tarrant County Plaza Building and the Southside Community Center. Cynthia Walsh, assistant dean of student development and a member of TCU’s Vote Purple, Vote Smart team, said when she asked students if they were registered, they would give her a straight “yes” or “no” answer, but when she followed up with a question about where they will vote, she often got a confused response.
“There’s a whole laundry list of acceptable identification,” Raborn said. “Most voters bring either their voter certificate or driver’s license, but they can use student ID if it has a photo. We don’t have a photo ID requirement in the state, but if you do have a photo ID that establishes your identity like an employee card or student ID or even a Sam’s Club card, that will suffice.”
Raborn added that driver’s licenses from out of state are acceptable too.
Raborn said voters are not allowed to wear campaign T-shirts, buttons or anything promoting a candidate. He said that might be a problem, especially for new voters. People who wear clothes or accessories promoting a political party into the polling place will usually be forced to turn the shirts inside out, Raborn said.
“It’s a long-standing Texas law that you can’t wear campaign materials into the polling place,” Raborn said. “You can’t wear it within 100 feet of the outside door of the polling place.”
For a list of county early voting stations, visit http://www.tarrantcounty.com/evote.
Voters who have moved to Texas have called the Tarrant County Elections Center with several questions, Raborn said. Students have the option of remaining registered at their home or registering at their college, but the deadline for registration has already passed. Another option for out-of-state voters is to use an absentee ballot, but voters would have to check their home county’s rules and deadlines, Raborn said. For voters who moved from another county in Texas, they can vote by mail in their home county but must have written a request to their home county by Oct. 28, Raborn said.
Ashley Griffith, a senior finance major and Arizona native, said problems registering in her home state of Arizona and living in Texas prevented her from voting in the last presidential election. Griffith said she requested an absentee ballot, which was sent to her parents’ address. Her parents sent the ballot to her address in Texas, and she filled it out and sent it back to her home county, but it was too late. This time around, Griffith said she had the absentee ballot sent to her Texas address. With a choice of faxing it or e-mailing it, Griffith faxed her ballot with a copy of her driver’s license before the deadline, but she said it was still a hassle.
“Just stay on top of it, and keep going through the process that they tell you to,” Griffith said.
Myths and Misconceptions
Raborn said one prevalent myth he has heard circulating through e-mails is if someone votes a straight ticket for either major political party, the vote for the presidential race won’t be counted. Raborn said when you vote a straight ticket, you vote for every candidate from a specific party, including the presidential candidate.
Walsh said one of the goals of Vote Purple, Vote Smart is to clear up any misconceptions about the voting system.
Voters who have registered but are confused about where the candidates stand can check out www.opencongress.org to see the voting records of senators and representatives in Congress. The site has updates on the presidential candidates’ stances on issues such as health care and Wall Street regulation. Another site voters may use to wade through the swarm of attack ads and shifting positions is www.factcheck.org. The site criticizes misleading and even outright false statements from both of the candidates’ campaigns.