Election Day is November 3. The race to be the next president of the United States headlines the ballot, but the U.S. Senate race between M.J. Hegar and John Cornyn will also be decided. In U.S. House District 23, Gina Ortiz Jones and Tony Gonzales are vying to replace retiring Rep. Will Hurd. And the Texas House is also in the balance as Democrats try to win a majority for the first time in nearly two decades.
We're presenting this voter guide in chronological order of the process. The topics include:
- How to register to vote.
- Key dates for the November 3 election.
- How to cast your vote in the election.
- Learning about candidates and issues.
- Turning in your ballot.
- Making sure your vote is counted.
- Voting during the pandemic.
- Tracking elections results.
Chapter one: How to register to vote
First things first: You should find out whether you already registered to vote. While the deadline has passed for Texans to register to cast a ballot in this year's general election, many people in the state may not be sure about where they stand. Check to see whether you're already a Texas voter by clicking or tapping here.
Chapter two: Key election dates
Here are the dates you'll need to know in order to prepare for the general election in Texas:
- October 5 -- Last day to register to vote
- October 13 -- Early voting starts
- October 23 -- Last day to apply for ballot by mail
- October 30 -- Last day of voting early by personal appearance
Last day to receive ballot by mail - November 3 at 7 p.m. if carrier envelope is not postmarked or November 4 at 5 p.m. if carrier envelope is postmarked by 7 p.m. at the location of the election on Election Day.
Chapter three: How to cast your vote
There are dozens of early voting locations across Bexar County. Several larger locations are being used this time to allow people to practice social distancing during voting, including the AT&T Center. To find a complete list of early voting locations, click here, or consult the map below.
Registered voters in the county will have the chance to submit a ballot in-person from Oct. 13 through Oct. 30. Here are the times for each day:
- Tuesday, Oct. 13 to Saturday, Oct. 17: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 18: noon to 6 p.m.
- Monday, Oct. 19 to Saturday, Oct. 24: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 25: noon to 6 p.m.
- Monday, Oct. 26 to Friday, Oct. 30: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Early voting is starting sooner this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The extension of voting dates was authorized by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in this proclamation.
The video below shows how to find early voting locations:
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is expected to be a surge in mail-in voting. You have to meet certain criteria to cast your ballot by mail. They are:
- Away from the county of residence on Election Day and during the early voting period
- Sick or disabled
- 65 years of age or older on Election Day
- Confined in jail, but eligible to vote
Essentially, fear of getting the coronavirus should not make a person eligible to request a mail-in ballot. However, the Bexar County Elections Department is allowing people with certain health conditions, listed by the CDC, to apply for a mail-in ballot. Those conditions are listed here.
How do I get my mail-in ballot?
There are several key steps to ensure your ballot is counted this year.
A video posted on the Bexar County Elections Department website shows the new voting system. Jacquelyn Callanen, the elections administrator, is featured in this story, video with step-by-step instructions.
If your county elections office receives your application to vote by mail more than 45 days before Election Day, they must send your ballot at least 30 days out from the election. If your application is received after the 45-day mark, the county must mail out your ballot within seven days of approving your application, according to the Texas Tribune.
The Bexar County Elections Office warned earlier this summer that it is important to request a mail-in ballot as early as possible to avoid a backlog and possibly not receiving the ballot in time.
You don't want to get to a polling location and not be ready. There are certain types of ID you need to show before you cast your ballot.
Here's a list that shows you all of the acceptable ID forms.
Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen demonstrates how the county's new voting machines work in this video:
IS MY VOTER REGISTRATION INFORMATION PUBLIC?
Voter privacy rules vary by state. In Texas, if you are registered to vote, your name, address, precinct you live in and registration number is public record. But your birthday or social security number is kept confidential. The Texas secretary of state allows certain individuals to keep their information confidential, including law enforcement, judges and some crime victims.
Chapter four: Who's on the ballot?
Here's a look at some of the key races in Texas and San Antonio — and an introduction to the candidates.
The big stories this year include the presidential race and the battle for one of the state's U.S. Senate seats. Incumbent Republican John Cornyn is seeking to retain his seat against Democratic challenger MJ Hegar.
Other major races include the U.S. House race in District 23, where Republican Will Hurd is not seeking re-election. Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones will face Republican Tony Gonzales, who won a razor-thin victory in July's primary runoff against Raul Reyes.
Here's the official Sample Ballot for Bexar County. Not all races shown on this page will appear on your ballot; that depends on the districts in which you live.
However, polls forecast the race as being much tighter than usual this year, with some even showing Democratic Party challenger Joe Biden ahead of Trump by a percentage point or two.
John Cornyn (R) vs. Mary 'MJ' Hegar (D)
Incumbent Republican John Cornyn is seeking to retain the Senate seat he has held since 2002. But first he'll have to defeat Democratic challenger Mary "MJ" Hegar, who defeated fellow Democrat Royce West in the summer's primary runoff.
A Texas Democrat hasn't been elected to fill one of the state's two U.S. Senate seats since Lloyd Bensten cut his fifth term short in 1993 to serve as Secretary of the Treasury.
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. House District 15
Democratic incumbent Vicente Gonzalez Jr. faces off against Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez for the U.S. House seat he first won in 2016 with 60% of the vote. District 15 encompasses a sliver of south Texas that includes portions of Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Brooks, Duval, Live Oak, Karnes, Wilson and Guadalupe counties. It's leaned Democrat since at least 1990.
U.S. House District 20
Democratic incumbent Joaquin Castro has held firm in District 20, encompassing part of San Antonio and Bexar County, since 2012. His challenger this year is Republican Mauro Garza, who defeated Gary Allen in this summer's primary runoff.
Allen runs against a Democrat who has only gotten more popular over time; the share of general election ballots submitted for Castro has increased every election, and the San Antonio native garnered 81% of the vote in District 20 in 2018.
U.S. House District 21
Republican incumbent Chip Roy seeks to win a second term representing U.S. House District 21 – encompassing parts of the Texas Hill Country, including Bulverde, Boerne, Fredericksburg and Kerrville – after running unopposed in the March primary.
U.S. House District 23
A battle is brewing over District 23, which covers a substantial region of west Texas stretching from San Antonio to El Paso, after Republican incumbent Will Hurd announced he would not seek re-election. He has held the seat since 2015.
Instead, it is former U.S. Navy cryptologist Tony Gonzales who will attempt to keep the district red. He is on the ballot against Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, a U.S. Air Force veteran, and Libertarian candidate Beto Villela.
U.S. House District 28
Democrat Henry Cuellar has represented District 28 since first winning the seat in 2004, and he's hoping to keep his general election streak going against Republican challenger Sandra Whitten, who ran unopposed in her party's primary. Libertarian Bekah Congdon rounds out the race for a region representing more than 710,000 Texans in parts of Atascosa, McMullen, Webb, Zapata and Starr counties.
U.S. House District 34
Republican Rey Gonzalez Jr. has a tough task as he challenges Democratic incumbent Filemon Vela for the District 34 seat, comprising a sliver of southeast Texas that includes parts of DeWitt and Goliad counties all the way down to Brownsville. Vela has yet to garner less than 60% of the general election vote going back to 2012.
U.S. House District 35
Having first been elected to the House in 1994, longtime Democratic legislator Lloyd Doggett is once again running to represent a small but dense region of south-central Texas that includes parts of Guadalupe, Travis, Hayes, Caldwell, Comal and Bexar counties.
Texas Senate District 19
Republican incumbent Peter Flores faces off against Democratic challenger Roland Gutierrez and Libertarian Jo-Anne Valdivia for control of Texas Senate District 19, which encompasses a region of south-southwest Texas, including Del Rio and part of San Antonio.
In 2018, just 6,000 votes separated Flores from then-Democratic candidate Pete Gallego.
Texas Senate District 21
Both candidates ran unopposed in the March primary, although this will be the first time since 2012 that Zaffirini faces a Republican challenger in the general election.
Texas Senate District 26
Here, Jose Menendez, the Democrat who has represented District 26 since 2015, is being challenged by Julian Villarreal of the Green Party. There are no Republican candidates in the race. District 26 encompasses northwest San Antonio and Leon Valley, and parts of Converse to the city's northeast.
Texas House of Representatives
Texas House District 116
Democratic incumbent and San Antonio native Trey Martinez Fisher is attempting to hold off Republican challenger Robert Litoff to win re-election for District 116. The district encompasses a sliver of the city's northwest side that includes Balcones Heights and the Medical Center area.
Texas House District 117
Democrat Philip Cortez ran unopposed in the 2020 primary and will have to defeat Republican Carlos Antonio Raymond and Libertarian Tony Quinones in order to win re-election for District 117. The district is made up of land to the west of the city, including Macdona and Von Ormy.
Texas House District 118
Democrat Leo Pacheco is seeking a second term in the Texas House to represent a district that lies mostly to the south of the city, including Elmendorf, Sandy Oaks and Somerset.
Texas House District 119
The election will end with a new face representing District 119, composed of regions to the southeast and east of San Antonio, due to Roland Gutierrez giving up his seat in order to run for Texas Senate.
Hoping to succeed him are Democrat Elizabeth Campos, Republican George Garza, Libertarian Arthur Thomas IV and Green Party candidate Antonio Padron. Garza ran unopposed in the primary while Campos narrowly defeated Jennifer Ramos in the July runoff.
Texas House District 120
Democratic incumbent Barbara Gervin-Hawkins is seeking re-election to represent District 120, made up of a large portion of east and northeast San Antonio stretching to Converse.
Texas House District 121
Republican Steve Allison is seeking to be re-elected to a second term representing District 121 in the Texas House, and he faces Democrat Celina Montoya. Allison ran unopposed in the primary, while Montoya garnered 69% of the vote while defeating two opponents.
District 121 lies in northeast San Antonio and includes parts of Alamo Heights and Olmos Park.
Texas House District 122
In a race to represent a large swath of north Bexar County, including Camp Bullis and Leon Springs, Republican Lyle Larson is seeking a sixth term in the Texas House. He faces Democrat Claire Barnett in a general election rematch of 2018, when Larson defeated Barnett by winning 62% of the vote.
Texas House District 123
Democrat incumbent Diego Bernal is running unopposed in the District 123 race to represent an estimated 186,000 San Antonians who live downtown and on the north side all the way to Castle Hills. This is a familiar spot for the former San Antonio councilman; he also ran unopposed in 2016 and 2018.
Texas House District 124
Here, Ina Minjarez is also running unopposed in her bid to win re-election to the District 124 seat, which lies in west Bexar County. She won the 2018 general election over Republican Johnny Arredondo with 68% of voters supporting her.
Texas House District 125
Democrat Ray Lopez, a former San Antonio councilman, is seeking re-election for a second term to represent a section of the west side and Leon Valley. Hoping to unseat him is Libertarian Tony Valvdivia.
Bexar County Sheriff
Democrat Javier Salazar is running to retain his position as Bexar County Sheriff, having handily won the primary with 54% of the vote. Facing him is Republican Gerard Rickhoff, the former county clerk who defeated Gary Garcia and Willie Ng in his party's primary.
Bexar County Commissioner, Precinct 1
Democrat Rebeca Clay-Flores and Republican Gabriel Lara are facing off for seat on the county commissioner's court. Precinct 1 currently is represented by Sergio "Chico" Rodriguez, who has been a commissioner for 15 years but was defeated by Clay-Flores in the Democratic primary.
Bexar County Commissioner, Precinct 3
The Precinct 3 seat on the commissioner's court will also see a new face after Kevin Wolff announced last year he wouldn't seek re-election. Those vying to succeed him are Democrat Christine Hortick, who handily won her primary, and Republican Trish DeBerry, who emerged victorious from the Republican runoff election.
Voters are also being asked to weigh in on a number of propositions affecting San Antonio, local school districts and surrounding communities. Details on each can be found on this sample ballot, but we've explained five that are among the most important and wide-reaching below.
Chapter five: Making sure your vote is counted
The simplest way to make sure your vote is received on time is to vote early at one of the early vote centers, which will be open starting Oct. 13 across Texas.
Anyone not voting in person should make sure to mail in their ballot so that it is postmarked by Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. and received by the county clerk no later than Nov. 4 at 5 p.m.
In addition, the ballot can be brought directly to the county clerk's office.
Chapter six: Voting during the pandemic
Elections officials are taking precautions to protect voters coming the polling places to cast their votes this October and November.
This includes adding larger polling sites to enable better spacing of voters and voting machines, plus other measures to help with social distancing and to limit the possibility of spreading the coronavirus through touch pads and other contact points.
Chapter seven: Tracking election results
KENS5.com will have live updates of the presidential race, statewide balloting and local elections in Bexar County throughout election night and into the coming days as results continue to be counted from absentee and mail-in voting.
A link to the election results page will be included in this guide once Bexar County releases its official ballot for the November 3 general election.