According to the Texas Secretary of State, Texas currently has approximately 14,000,000 registered voters and a voting age population of over 19,000,000, for an estimated registered voter percentage of 75%.
Eligible voters in Texas must meet these qualifications:
- U.S. citizen
- Resident of the county where voter registration application was submitted
- 18 years old on Election Day
- Not a convicted felon
- Not declared by a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be either totally mentally incapacitated or partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote
Valid photo ID is also required unless a voter receives a permanent or temporary exemption based on a disability, consistent religious objection to being photographed, or due to complications from a natural disaster. The following forms of photo ID are accepted:
- Texas driver’s license
- Texas Election Identification Certificate
- Texas personal identification card
- Texas license to carry a handgun
- U.S. military identification card showing photo
- U.S. citizenship certificate showing photo
- U.S. passport
Early voting is allowed at any polling location in a voter’s county of residence, but voters must vote at their designated precinct on the Election Day. Texas also allows for voting by mail under certain circumstances.
Unlike some states that have a closed primary, where only registered Democrats or Republicans can vote in that party’s primary, Texas has an open primary. An open primary allows any voter to participate in a Democratic or Republican primary. In other words, Texas does not require voters to register by political party. Therefore, a voter is considered a Democrat or Republican by voting in the respective primary.
While registered voters may vote in either political party’s primary, a voter may vote in only one party’s primary in each election cycle. If a voter votes in one party’s primary, the voter may not vote in the other party’s run-off election in that same year. Registered voters who do not vote in the primary election may vote in a run-off election of either party that year.
Run-off elections are held for each primary race where a candidate doesn’t receive a majority of votes. In 2016, the primary runoff election is May 24, and early voting runs from May 16 – 20.