2021 Voter Guide: What you need to know before you go to the polls

The May 1 general election is coming up soon for Central Texas, so here is a handy voter guide on everything you need to know before you go to the polls, including sample ballots, mail-in ballot information, and polling locations.

Are you registered to vote?

To vote in Texas, you must be registered. Voters can check online to see if they are currently registered to vote. 

Unfortunately, the deadline to register to vote in the May general election has passed, as voters must be registered to vote 30 days prior to election day in order to participate. 

How to register

When does my voter registration become effective? 

It becomes effective in the precinct of your address 30 days after the application is received. The voter registration certificate will then be mailed within 30 days 

You are eligible to register to vote if you are:

  • A United States citizen
  • A Travis County resident
  • At least 17 years and 10 months old, and you are 18 years of age on Election Day
  • Not a convicted felon (you may be eligible to vote if you have completed your sentence, probation and parole)
  • Not declared by a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be either totally mentally incapacitated or partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote

Early voting/Election Day

Early voting kicks off Monday, April 19, and lasts through Tuesday, April 27. Early voting hours are Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Election Day voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Travis County voters can vote at any polling location. For a list of polling locations, click here


The last day to apply for a ballot to vote by mail is Tuesday, April 20. The application must be received, not postmarked by that date.

Applications can be dropped off in person or submitted by fax or email, but hard copies must be received within four business days. You can print out your own application, contact your local elections office to receive one, or request one from the secretary of state’s office.

You are eligible to vote early by mail if you are a registered voter who is:

  • 65 years of age or older
  • Out of the county during the entire election period
  • Sick or disabled
  • Confined in jail, but eligible to vote

For more information on applying for vote-by-mail, click here.

Voter ID

In order to vote in the state of Texas, voters have to present a valid form of photo ID at the polls. The following are acceptable forms of photo ID in Texas:

  • Texas Driver License issued by DPS
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas Personal Identification Card issued by DPS
  • Texas Handgun License issued by DPS
  • United States Military Identification Card containing the person's photograph
  • United States Citizenship Certificate containing the person's photograph
  • United States Passport (book or card)

With the exception of the U.S. Citizenship Certificate, the acceptable form of photo identification may be expired no more than four years before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place. For voters aged 70 or older, the acceptable form of photo identification may be expired for any length of time if the identification is otherwise valid.

Don't have an accepted photo ID?

Voters can also bring one of the following in order to execute a "Reasonable Impediment Declaration" if they do not have one of the accepted forms of ID and cannot reasonably obtain one:

  • Copy or original of a government document that shows the voter’s name and an address, including the voter’s voter registration certificate
  • Copy of or original current utility bill
  • Copy of or original bank statement
  • Copy of or original government check
  • Copy of or original paycheck
  • Copy of or original of (a) a certified domestic (from a U.S. state or territory) birth certificate or (b) a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes the voter’s identity (which may include a foreign birth document)

What's on the ballot?

The city of Austin has placed eight propositions on the ballot for the May general election, including Proposition B, which would reinstate the homeless camping ban.

Proposition A gives the Austin Firefighters Association the authority to require the city to participate in binding arbitration of all issues in dispute with the Association if the City and the Association reach an impasse in collective bargaining negotiations.

Proposition B will reinstate the homeless camping ban that the council repealed in 2019 and also limit panhandling to specific hours of the day.

Proposition C will allow for the Office of Police Oversight to become more independently operated.

Proposition D will let voters change the date of the mayoral election to coincide with the presidential election, meaning the candidate elected in 2022 will only serve two years. 

Proposition E will allow for ranked-choice voting in city elections, which would eliminate runoff elections.

Proposition F would change Austin to a strong-mayor system, which will eliminate the city manager position and designate an elected mayor as the chief administrative and executive officer of the city with veto power over all legislation, including the budget; and with sole authority to hire and fire most department heads and direct staff, and with no articulated or stated charter authority to implement Council decisions.

Proposition G would amend the City Charter to add another city council district, resulting in 11 members elected from single-member districts.

Proposition H will adopt a public finance system that would require the city clerk to provide up to two $25 vouchers to every registered voter who then can contribute them to candidates for city office that meet certain requirements.

To view a Travis County sample ballot, click here.

To view a Williamson County sample ballot, click here.

To view Hays County sample ballots, click here.