On July 14, Texas will hold its 2020 runoff elections to decide the final spots for Democrats and Republicans on the November general election ballot. There are 35 congressional, legislative and state board nominations up for grabs. You can view the full ballot here and find polling locations here.
With early voting starting Monday, this is what you need to know.
Who can vote in the runoffs?
Texas has open primaries, meaning you don’t have to be a registered member of either party to cast a ballot in a primary runoff. You can check your voter registration status here. But you can only vote in one party’s primary, and which one might depend on how you voted in the first round of the primaries in March. People who voted in the March 3 primary are only able to vote in that same party’s runoff election, as they have affiliated themselves with that given party for that calendar year. Those who did not participate in the March primary are able to vote in either primary runoff election.
What’s different this year?
The primaries were originally scheduled for May, but Abbott delayed them until July because of the coronavirus. Abbott also doubled the length of the early voting period for the July primary runoff elections in a move to aimed at easing crowds at the polls during the pandemic. Early voting runs from Monday through July 10.
“It is necessary to increase the number of days in which polling locations will be open during the early voting period, such that election officials can implement appropriate social distancing and safe hygiene practices,” Abbott wrote in a May proclamation.
How did the coronavirus affect mail-in voting?
The pandemic has stirred a legal fight over mail-in voting in Texas. Democrats sued the state hoping to expand voting by mail as a safer alternative to in-person voting during the pandemic, but the Texas Supreme Court ruled in late May that a lack of immunity to the coronavirus alone does not qualify a voter to apply for a mail-in ballot.
“We agree with the State that a voter’s lack of immunity to COVID-19, without more, is not a ‘disability’ as defined by the Election Code,” the court wrote in May.
Texas voters can qualify for mail-in ballots if they are 65 years or older, have a disability or an illness, are confined in jail, according to the Texas secretary of state’s office. Those who will not be in the county where they registered on election day and throughout the early voting period also have the option to request a ballot by mail