Voter and absentee ballot deadlines approaching
If registering to vote seems like a difficult and daunting process like filing taxes or purchasing insurance, you will be happy to know it is much easier.
If you know your name, gender and several other pieces of personal information, you can register to vote today.
“This is the easy part,” Lola Sewell, a member of the Dallas County Board of Registrars said. “It’s a matter of just keeping your information updated.”
Sewell has seen many come through and register at their Dallas County Courthouse office, and she said it is special to watch someone register for the first time.
“It’s exciting when a young 18-year-old comes in and it’s there first time and they say it’s like a baby making a first step into adulthood,” Sewell said. “They smile and it is so cute.”
She said 18-year-olds are timid yet excited when they come in to register to vote.
“If it’s your first time we do the long form and if you are updating you use a short form,” Sewell said. “ We let them fill out the information that they know like their name, address and telephone number.”
She also usually directs first-time male registers to the post office for selective service and she said they usually go with a parent.
Two types of forms can be found at the Registrars office; a short form and a long form. The long form, which is one full page, is typically for first-time voters.
“Well a lot of people are already registered to vote and if they are registered and they want to change their name, although they could do it on the long form, they can use the short form and its easier,” Sewell said.
If someone wanted to change their name or address, she said, the short form lets the office know they are already in the system. This form is about half a page long.
These two types of forms can be found at the Registrars office in the Dallas County Courthouse, as well as it can be downloaded online. Voters can then mail in the completed form or bring it to the office.
Once someone is registered, Sewell said, they are registered forever and for every election national and local, as long as they stay active.
“At the end of elections, we scan in the voter ID card as to what election you have actually voted in,” Sewell said. “And that automatically keeps you active forever and ever as long as you vote anytime there is an election.”
The final day to register to vote in the Aug. 28 municipal elections is Friday, Aug. 17.
The absentee ballot process is slightly different because it is done through a local town hall of city hall and not the Board of Registrars.
“It opens up [Tuesday] for on site absentee ballots,” Sewell said. “That means that you can go to city hall and request an absentee ballot and the absentee process will go on for 35 days before the election.”
After registering to vote, potential absentee voters must go to their town hall or city hall and request an absentee ballot. The city clerk’s office said to request an absentee ballot, voters will have to give information on as to why they cannot vote in person at their registered location.
From July 24 until Aug. 23, if approved as an absentee voter, voters can then vote in person at city hall. Absentee voters can also mail in an absentee ballot from now until the day of the election. If the mailed ballot does not reach city hall by noon on Aug.28, the ballot will not be counted.
“Your vote is your voice,” Sewell said. “It is so important to register to vote. It’s a privilege and a right to vote for the person of your choice.”
What if I forgot my polling location?
Your voting registration card details two polling locations. On the card it should give a location for national elections and local elections. This card will also tell you all of the districts you are voting in.
What if I am turning 18 before the election, but after the
cut-off day to register?
The board of registrars said to go ahead and register to vote today, even if you will turn 18 after the cut-off to register. As long as you will be 18 on the day of the Aug. 28 elections, you are eligible to vote. You will be sent your voter registration card prior to the election.
What if I just moved to the area or just changed my last name?
Pick up a voter registration form and fill it out. The information should transfer over because of your social security number. Also for convenience if you have already registered to vote but want to update information, there is a form specifically for updating information that can be found at the board of registrars.
I filled out a form before the August election; does this mean I am registered to vote for the November election as well?
Yes, if you register to vote you can vote in any election, national or local. You just need to pay attention to the voting location you are assigned.
Someone approached me with a voter registration form on the street? Is this a legitimate way to register?
It is always a safe bet to register in person at the Board of Registrars office because you hand over your private information. If you did fill out a form with a second party, it is probably okay. But remember — you are not officially registered until you receive your voting card in the mail.
If I have a felony on my record can I register to vote?
Yes, but only if you have proof that your civil rights have been restored.