What You Need To Know Before Voting In The Midterm Elections In North Texas | KERA News

What You Need To Know Before Voting In The Midterm Elections In North Texas

Nov 3, 2018

More than 4.8 million Texans cast their ballot in person or by mail during the early voting period.

At the end of early voting on Friday, turnout in the state's largest counties surpassed the entire turnout of the 2014 midterm election. But that doesn't mean you don't need to vote — Election Day is Tuesday.

In previous midterm elections, as few as one in three Texans cast a ballot. While midterms are typically low-turnout elections, they can have an outsized impact, depending on the outcome of state and congressional races. 

The governor’s mansion, a seat in the U.S. Senate and some of the most powerful statewide offices, such as lieutenant governor and attorney general, are on the ballot this fall.

All of Texas' Congress members are up for election — same, too, for the entire Texas House of Representatives and half of the Texas Senate. This year is particularly unusual in Texas because there are eight vacancies in Congress to fill as incumbents decided not to run for re-election. 

A number of local, county and judicial posts will also be decided.

Find your personal sample ballot at the bottom of this page, along with information on polling places, voter ID and more.

Dates to know

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Early voting ran from Oct. 22 through Nov. 2. The last day to apply for a mail-in ballot was Oct. 26. The deadline to register to vote was Oct. 9 — find out if you’re registered.

Where to vote

On Election Day, you must vote at the polling place assigned to your precinct. Find your precinct

What to bring

After a judge ruled the Texas 2011 voter ID law discriminatory, Texas scaled back on its voter ID requirements. The acceptable forms of ID now are:

  • Texas Driver License issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas Personal Identification Card issued by DPS
  • Texas Handgun License issued by DPS
  • United States Military Identification Card containing the person’s photograph
  • United States Citizenship Certificate containing the person’s photograph
  • United States Passport (book or card)

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, ID must be current or have expired no more than four years before being presented at the polling place.

If you don’t have any of the above forms of ID and there was a reasonable impediment or difficulty obtaining one, the following supporting forms of ID can be presented:

  • Copy or original of a government document that shows the voter’s name and an address, including the voter’s voter registration certificate
  • Copy of or original current utility bill
  • Copy of or original bank statement
  • Copy of or original government check
  • Copy of or original paycheck
  • Copy of or original of (a) a certified domestic (from a U.S. state or territory) birth certificate or (b) a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes the voter’s identity (which may include a foreign birth document).

After presenting a supporting form of ID, you’ll have to sign a Reasonable Impediment Declaration. Learn more about voter ID.

Voting by mail

The deadline to request a mail-in ballot was Oct. 26. It has to be received by your county clerk's office by that date. According to the Secretary of State’s office, you can apply if:

  • You are 65 years or older.
  • You are disabled.
  • You will be out of the county on Election Day and during the period for early voting in person.
  • You are in jail, but otherwise eligible.

Once you have received your ballot in the mail, complete it and send it to the return address indicated. Your completed ballot has to be received by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6 if the carrier envelope is not postmarked. If it is postmarked by 7 p.m. Tuesday, it will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

What's on the ballot

Enter your address to see all of the races and candidates that will be on your ballot.

Election Highlights

Governor

Gov. Greg Abbott is seeking a second term in the state’s highest office. Democrat Lupe Valdez, the longtime Dallas County sheriff, resigned last December to run against him. Abbott and Valdez held their one and only debate on Sept. 28. Abbott is popular in Texas and polls sow he has a commanding lead in the race. Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994. And as of this summer, Abbott had 130 times more money for his campaign than Valdez. Mark Tippetts will be on the ticket as a Libertarian. 

Lieutenant Governor

Incumbent Dan Patrick is seeking a second term as lieutenant governor. Before that, he represented Texas in Houston's Senate District 7. The deeply conservative Senate majority leader is being challenged by Mike Collier, a Houston-area accountant. Collier stepped down as finance chair of the Texas Democratic Party to challenge Patrick. Collier was the Democratic nominee for state comptroller in 2014, but ultimately lost to Glenn Hegar by more than 20 points. Kerry McKennon is running as a Libertarian. 

Attorney General

Republican Ken Paxton has spent most of term as Texas attorney general under indictment. Three years ago, a Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton for securities fraud. It remains to be seen if his legal troubles will hurt his chances at re-election. That’s the hope for Democratic challenger Justin Nelson. The Austin lawyer has said he sees the race as one of “integrity versus indictment.” Michael Ray Harris is running as a Libertarian.

U.S. Senate

The race for U.S. Senate is arguably the most talked about race in Texas. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is seeking his second term after spending a chunk of his first term running for president. The Republican faces Democrat U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke. The majority of polls have favored Cruz but one poll in September showed O'Rourke with a narrow lead. The native of El Paso raised a record-breaking $38.1 million for his campaign in the third quarter — three times more than Cruz. Neal Dikeman is the Libertarian candidate in the race.  

U.S. House District 3

Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Richardson, is retiring after 26 years in Congress. Democrat Lorie Burch, an attorney, and Republican Van Taylor are competing for the seat. Taylor stepped down from his state Senate seat to run. Christopher Claytor is running as a Libertarian. Texas’ 3rd Congressional District covers much of Collin County and remains a Republican stronghold. Voters in the district haven’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. House since 1967 and haven’t favored a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, according to The Texas Tribune.

U.S. House District 5

Republican U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling is retiring after 14 years in Congress representing Texas’ 5th Congressional District. The district includes parts of Dallas, Garland and Mesquite and extends to the south and east. Lance Gooden, a 35-year-old insurance consultant, has represented a rural Kaufman County portion of the district for three terms in the Texas House of Representatives. Dan Wood, the Democrat in the race, is a former Terrell City Council member. The 63-year-old lawyer is board certified in criminal appellate law and owns a farm with his wife.

U.S. House District 6

The race to replace long-serving U.S. Rep. Joe Barton pits an established Republican against a Democratic newcomer. Tarrant County Tax Collector-Assessor (and one-time Barton staffer) Ron Wright says if he’s elected, he’ll join the far-right Freedom Caucus in Congress. Former journalist and public relations executive Jana Lynne Sanchez of Waxahachie has built an energetic campaign and pledged a moderate approach in office. The seat includes Arlington and parts of Tarrant County, as well as Ellis and Navarro counties. Libertarian Jason Allen Harber will also appear on the ballot.

U.S. House District 32

Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions has been in Congress since 1997, and has represented Texas’ 32nd Congressional District since 2003. The district includes parts of northern and eastern Dallas, the Park Cities and a small part of Collin County. He's facing his toughest challenge in years from Colin Allred, who worked in the Department of Housing and Urban Development under then-President Obama. Allred, a civil rights lawyer, was an NFL linebacker for the Tennessee Titans. Sessions is seen as one of the most vulnerable Republican Congressmen in Texas because his district voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016. Libertarian Melina Baker is also running.

Texas House District 107

Republican businesswoman Deanna Maria Metzger is running to unseat Democrat Victoria Neave. After unseating a Republican incumbent in 2016, Neave earned "freshman of the year" honors from her fellow Democrats, in part for getting a law passed aimed at easing a backlog of rape kits. But a few days after the 85th legislative session ended, she had a car wreck and ended up pleading no contest to drunken driving. Neave told KERA she knows that makes her a target for Republicans in her re-election campaign, but she wants to continue representing District 107, which covers parts of Mesquite, Garland and Dallas.

Texas House District 114

In the March primary, incumbent Jason Villalba, one of the most moderate Republicans in the state House according to The Texas Tribune, lost his re-election bid to Republican Lisa Luby Ryan, an interior designer. Attorney John Turner, the lone Democrat on the primary ballot, will challenge Ryan for District 114, which wraps around Dallas to the north. The district has been Republican-controlled for years, but whether it will stay that way isn't guaranteed. Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by nearly 9 percentage points in 2016, according to the Tribune.

Texas Senate District 10

Texas Senate District 10, which covers about half of Tarrant County, is the closest to a swing district among the 31 Senate districts in the state, according to The Texas Tribune. Democrat Beverly Powell, a real estate developer, is running to unseat incumbent state Sen. Konni Burton. The Colleyville Republican won her seat in 2014 after Democrat Wendy Davis ran for governor instead of running for re-election. Burton’s re-election bid is considered a toss-up.

Texas Senate District 16

District 16 is one of three Republican-held state Senate seats potentially in play this election. State Sen. Don Huffines is running in a district where Hillary Clinton edged Donald Trump by nearly 5 percentage points in the 2016 election, according to The Texas Tribune. Democrat and attorney Nathan Johnson is challenging Huffines. The district covers the northern Dallas as well as parts of Garland, Carrollton, Farmers Branch and Addison.

Dallas City Council District 4

After former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges in August, 13 candidates hurriedly filed to replace him.

Those running for the empty seat include (information from The Dallas Morning News):

  1. Carolyn K. Arnold, former council member and teacher 
  2. Brandon J. Vance, college adviser at KIPP Schools
  3. Vincent T. Parker, pastor of Golden Gate Missionary Baptist Church
  4. Becky L. Lewis, former constituent liaison for U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
  5. Obi E. Igbokwe, former Dallas County Schools bus driver
  6. ​​Dawn M. Blair, city of Dallas Aviation Department employee
  7. Lester Houston, Cedar Haven Association leader
  8. Joli A. Robinson with the Dallas Police Department’s Office of Community Affairs and the Youth Outreach Unit
  9. Justina Y. Walford with Studio Movie Grill community outreach
  10. Donald A. Washington, retired JCPenney manager
  11. Kebran W. Alexander​, member of NAACP Dallas
  12. Activist ​Keyaira D. Saunders
  13. Attorney Corwyn M. Davis

Dallas County District Attorney

Republican Faith Johnson was appointed in 2016 by Gov. Greg Abbott to replace Susan Hawk, who resigned to focus on her mental health. Johnson is the first African-American woman to hold the position. Democrat John Creuzot is challenging Johnson in a race that’s captured the attention of advocates who want the DA to use the office to end mass incarceration and reduce disparities in the justice system. Both candidates are former criminal court judges and both are running as reformers. 

Tax Ratification Elections

State funding for public education has decreased, and the reliance on local property taxes has increased. That’s why the DallasRichardson and Frisco school districts are all asking voters to approve a 13-cent property tax increase — the maximum allowed by law — to add millions of dollars to their budgets.

They’re not alone in asking voters for financial help: Lancaster, Duncanville and Cedar Hill ISDs have also held tax ratification elections in recent months. School funds come from both the state and from local property taxes, which have been rising. Yet those extra property tax dollars are not staying in districts. 

Tarrant County Bond Package

On the ballot in Tarrant County this year is the largest bond package in the county’s history. The $800 million bond proposal will pay for the Tarrant County Hospital District – which operates as John Peter Smith Health Network – to build new facilities and expand existing ones. The last time Tarrant County voters approved a bond program to support the public hospital system was 1985. The bond package will not increase taxes.

Sample ballots by county