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Texas Politics - Political Parties
6.1    Register and Vote

The most basic and common party activity for citizens is voting. Voters cast ballots in primary elections to choose a party's nominee (or general election candidate) from a list of potential party candidates. They vote in the general election to choose the person to occupy a specific public office, like Governor, state senator and state Supreme Court justice.

In order to vote, you must register to vote with the state. In Texas, a citizen 18 years of age by election day may register in person or by mail at least thirty (30) days prior to the election (primary or general) in which he or she wishes to vote. The registration process is administered by county government, but regulated by the state. You can download the voter registration form in English or Spanish from the Texas Secretary of State website.

Remember: after completing the form, mail it to the voter registrar in your county. The Secretary of State's website also lists the addresses for registrars in every Texas county. If you move, state law requires that you re-register at your new address. Many voters are disqualified because they forget to re-register after moving.

Texas election law allows registered voters to vote in the primary of only one party in a given election, but as you may have noticed, the registration process does not require that you register as a member of a specific political party, as is the case in some other states. Consequently, you are not required to decide what party primary you will vote in until you arrive at the polls. Most voters, of course, don't put the decision off that long.

During the primary election voters choose both their party's candidates for public office and the leadership of both the party organization at the local precinct and the county (or district) levels. If no party nominee for a specific public office wins a majority (more than 50 percent of the vote), a runoff election is held, usually about one month after the initial primary, to choose the party's candidate.

Texas Politics:
© 2009, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
3rd Edition - Revision 115
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