Early voting opens Monday: Special election to decide among 6 for SD-30

Cooke County Clerk Pam Harrison demonstrates what it’s like to vote on an ExpressVote ballot marking machine Thursday, Sept. 10.

Early voting for a specially called election to fill Sen. Pat Fallon’s Texas Senate District 30 seat kicks off Monday.

Weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., registered voters can choose one of six candidates on the ballot — five Republicans and one Democrat — inside the courtroom of the Cooke County Courthouse Annex, 112 S. Dixon St. Early voting ends Sept. 25.

Republicans Andy Hopper, Chris Watts, Shelley Luther, Drew Springer and Craig Carter are on the SD-30 ballot along with Democrat Jacob Minter.

Last month, Fallon, R-Prosper, received the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, leaving his current state seat open. Fallon is replacing John Ratcliffe, R-Heath, on the November ballot after Ratcliffe was named the director of national intelligence.

SD-30 covers Cooke, Denton, Montague, Grayson, Collin, Archer, Clay, Erath, Jack, Palo Pinto, Parker, Wichita, Wise and Young counties.

“We recommend people vote early to help with social distancing,” Cooke County Clerk Pam Harrison said.

Harrison said poll workers will be taking extra precautions and sanitizing as much as possible to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

She also said wearing masks to vote is encouraged, but she cannot make someone do so. Should someone show up to the polls without a mask and they feel more comfortable wearing one, they can get one from an election worker, according to Harrison.

Voters are asked to use hand sanitizer when they come in, as well.

Harrison said Thursday morning, Sept. 10, that her office is busy sending out the last of the ballots by mail for the special election and those should be hitting mailboxes soon.

“A lot of voters, because they hit annual on their application, they may not even realize they’re going to get this ballot,” Harrison said. “Don’t be alarmed that your president is not on it because this is a special election.”

Harrison said the ballots for the Nov. 3 Uniform Election will be sent out shortly. However, she said those getting a ballot in the mail should send in their September ballot after they get it. September ballots cannot be combined with the November ballot in the same envelope, she said.

Harrison estimated 725 ballots for the special election will be sent out. The last day an application for a ballot by mail can be received is Friday, Sept. 18.

She said if you don’t want to vote in the special election, don’t mail the ballot back. Voters who filed an annual application for ballots by mail will still get a ballot for the November election even if they don’t vote in the special election, Harrison said.

Harrison also wants to remind voters that if they feel more comfortable walking their ballot in instead of using the mail, they can, but it has to be walked in to her office inside the Cooke County Courthouse, 101 S. Dixon St., only on Election Day, Sept. 29.

“Only you the voter can drop it off, no one else,” she said.

All ballots by mail must be received by Election Day in order for them to be counted, according to Harrison.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were 26,583 people registered to vote in Cooke County, according to Brandy Carr, the county’s voter registrar.

Don’t forget your ID

Acceptable forms of photo ID are a Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety, a Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by the DPS, a Texas personal identification card issued by the DPS, a Texas handgun license issued by the DPS, a United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph, a U.S. citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph or a U.S. passport.

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, which does not expire, the acceptable photo ID must be current or, for voters aged 18-69, have expired no more than four years before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place.

A voter 70 years of age or older may use a form of acceptable photo ID listed above that has expired for any length of time if the identification is otherwise valid.

Voters who do not possess and cannot reasonably obtain one of the seven forms of approved photo ID may fill out a Reasonable Impediment Declaration form and provide a supporting form of identification.

Allowable supporting documentation are: a government document that shows the voter’s name and an address, including the voter’s voter registration certificate; a current utility bill; a bank statement; a government check; a paycheck; a certified domestic birth certificate; or a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes the voter’s identity, which may include a foreign birth document.

If a voter meets those requirements and is otherwise eligible to vote, the voter will be able to cast a regular ballot in the election.

Voters can check their registration status on the secretary of state’s website at https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov/MVP/mvp.do.

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