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Deadline to register to vote is on Monday, Oct. 5

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The upcoming election has been a heated especially between the presidential candidates. Every vote counts and in order to make your vote count you must stay informed.

Important dates

* Deadline to register to vote is October 5th. Go to VoteTexas.gov to fill out a form and turn into the Duval and Jim Wells County Elections Administration in person or by mail. There are also officials at the Elections Administration Office who can help you fill out the forms if you need assistance.

* Early voting starts on Oct. 13and ends on Oct. 30 at the Duval County Courthouse, Jim Wells County Courthouse, Benavides Civic Center, Freer Civic Center, Premont City Hall or Orange Grove City Hall. This will include both Saturdays during this election cycle from 7am to 7pm.

* Election day is Nov. 3 from 7 a.m. To 7 p.m. at your polling location.

5 Steps To Cast Your Vote

With the upcoming election upon us, there are a lot of discussions about voting. No matter your voting preference, there are a few basic things you, as a voter, should keep in mind.

Step 1:

Know where to get your local voting information, and ensure your eligibility to vote. There is an entire Elections Administration department within the Duval and Jim Wells County Courthouse whose sole purpose is to facilitate the voting process for citizens, candidates, and voting venues. The staff that works there can help you register to vote, show you sample ballots, and answer any questions related to your specific voting needs.

Step 2:

Know how the election is being run. Learning about the legislative policies all citizens must follow is great because they are determined by law. When these policies are established and enacted during legislative session, things are considered regarding how elections will be put on, counted, and finalized, and also how to cut out loopholes that could compromise voting integrity. So be prepared! Know that this will be the first time validation equipment will be present to verify your valid photo ID. Election workers will be viewing citizens’ permanent address information, signatures, and photo ID, and comparing it to current voter registration. It is also strictly prohibited for any election worker to influence voters in any way. This is not only unethical, but also illegal. To learn more about election laws and other information go to https://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/index.shtml.

Step 3:

Find out where you are going to cast your vote. We highly suggest taking the initiative to vote in person at your polling location either during early voting or on election day. The JWC Elections Administration will be sharing polling location information via Google Drive on their new Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Jim-Wells-County-Elections-589310865094375/. Duval County Elections Administration office information can be found on their website or by calling 361-279-6272.

Did you know there is a new curbside, in-person option that will be available at polling locations this year? If you do request a mail-in/absentee ballot, you must meet the qualifications from the State of Texas.

Please be aware that there are no COVID-19 exemptions for this election cycle. Go to https://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/reqabbm.shtml to see if you qualify. In regard to COVID-19, stay aware of how you could be impacted at polling locations. Before entering, read documents placed on door entrances. Learn about local and state requirements that are either mandated or recommended. Being prepared is the best thing you can do to keep yourself and others around you safe.

Step 4:

Learn about who and what is on your ballot. Each election cycle and polling location is different. Know that not all ballots will be the same. Learn how your physical residence will impact your ballot by requesting a sample ballot prior to casting your vote. There are many ways you can get this information. Talk directly to your local Elections Administration, candidates, and/or political parties. Remember if you do print any sample ballots, they must be printed on yellow legal paper only. Sample ballots are a public resource and are not eligible for casting in the actual election.

Did you know that you can scratch a ballot and request a new one up to three times before being required to cast it? These replacement ballots can be used to make corrections to things like an incorrectly spelled name or a change of heart on a candidate. However, once a vote is CAST (the submit button is pressed), know you that cannot make any changes. Once a voter casts their vote, it is automatically transmitted to the Secretary of State and it is final. So please make sure you take your time, read carefully, and be resolute in your choices before submitting your vote.

Step 5:

Enjoy your experience. It is yours and yours only. The right to vote is a privilege of being an American. Voting not only helps the community you live in continue to grow and evolve, but it can also open doors to new possibilities. Especially in the current climate, voting might seem daunting, but open your mind and do what you think is best for you and your family. Do not let anyone influence your vote. Know that you can speak up and even report a complaint about unethical and illegal actions about anything from overt voter fraud to illicit campaign sign content and other electoral issues. This is why the State of Texas has the Texas Ethics Commission: so that elections and citizens are protected. To learn more go to https://www.ethics.state.tx.us/.