The season for voting is upon us! Every four years, eligible American voters celebrate our democracy by engaging in a robust political process and voting for their choice to be president of the United States, as well as candidates for national and local office. Election Day this year falls on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Early voting began on Tuesday, Oct. 13, and continues through Friday, Oct. 30. Registered voters in North Texas may cast their ballots at voting locations throughout the county of residence. The polls nearest you may be found at www.dallascountyvotes.org/, www.tarrantcounty.com and www.collincountytx.gov.
Casting an absentee ballot by mail is a delicate process. Applicants who are 65 years of age or older or applicants who are disabled or incarcerated may fill out an application to cast a ballot by mail by printing off an application for a mail-in ballot or absentee ballot at at www.dallascountyvotes.org/, www.tarrantcounty.com and collincountytx.gov.
The Texas Secretary of State’s Office offers a guide to filling out an application at https://webservices.sos.state.tx.us/forms/5-15f.pdf.
The deadline for requesting a ballot to vote by mail is Oct. 23 — this means your application for a mail-in ballot must be received by Oct. 23. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has stated that while mail-in ballots are being processed normally, it is wise to request a ballot as early as possible, and to return it promptly.
You can return your application to vote by mail to:
Collin County Early Voting Clerk
2010 Redbud Blvd., Suite 102
McKinney, TX 75006
Toni Pippins-Poole, Early Voting Clerk
Dallas County Elections
1520 Round Table Drive
Dallas, TX 75247
Fax your application for a ballot to:
Mailing Address: Tarrant County Elections
P.O. Box 961011
Fort Worth, TX 76161-0011
Express Courier Delivery: Tarrant County Elections
2700 Premier St.
Fort Worth, TX 76111-3011
Again, your application must be received (not postmarked) by Oct. 23.
After receiving a mail-in ballot from their county clerk, voters must carefully follow instructions for filling out their ballot, signing the ballot and enclosing it in the envelope provided, which is preaddressed. A mail-in ballot must be postmarked, at the latest, by Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. and must be received by the Dallas County Clerk’s office no later than 5 p.m. the day after Election Day, which is Nov. 4. If you have questions, you may call your county clerk’s office business hours.
Currently, there is only one location in each county for ballots to be dropped off. The drop-off locations are:
2010 Redbud Blvd., Suite 102, McKinney
1520 Round Table Drive, Dallas
2700 Premier St., Fort Worth
Regrettably, Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order prohibiting counties from multiple locations to drop off ballots. The governor’s order requires that all dropped-off ballots be physically taken to the above location. Ballots may be dropped off during the early voting period or on Election Day, Nov. 3, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The drop-off ballot location hours vary by county.
Texas law requires voters to have a valid photo identification, such as a current Texas driver’s license; Texas Personal Identification Card, with a photo; Texas Election Certificate, with photo, which is issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS); a Texas Handgun License, with photo, issued by DPS; or an American passport or military identification card, with photo.
Jewish Americans have both a civil and religious duty to vote. The history of our people is replete with episodes where we endured vile discrimination and were not free to participate in civic life. Throughout our storied history, Jews have been targeted for raw discrimination and generally banned from full participation in civic life.
America has provided Jews with a haven of opportunity to fulfill our individual and collective potential. The bedrock of our nation’s equality in education, business and religion is our Constitution, which provides for religious liberty in the First Amendment.
The fulfillment of America’s civic life does not just happen. We live in a participatory democracy. It is a civic duty to participate in our wondrous experience of self-government. The means of participation is an informed citizenry voting for its elected leaders at every level of government.
Judaism teaches that government is a human partnership with God. Failing to vote means abdicating the sacred partnership within the Divine work of government. By voting we are fulfilling our responsibilities as both Jews and Americans.
The election of 2020 is being vigorously contested. At the top of the ballot, voters will choose between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden to serve as president. Informed opinion varies in our community just as it does throughout America. But, each of us has an affirmative duty to vote our conscience. The time for debate over the election will soon be behind us.
In Texas, this year’s election marks a new era. There will be no straight-ticket party voting. This means that to participate fully in this year’s election, voters must review a lengthy ballot, and vote individually in each race. This year it is not possible to simply vote a straight Republican or Democratic ballot.
Take the time to review a sample ballot at www.dallascountyvotes.org/, www.tarrantcounty.com or www.collincountytx.gov.
Look closely at the contested races for the United States Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Texas Legislature and state judgeships. Read about the races and consider them carefully. Our elected representatives and judges have vast powers that effect our daily lives. Informed voters safeguard our democracy. Exercise your most precious civil liberty. Vote!
A version of this editorial appeared in the Oct. 15 issue of the Jewish Herald Voice and is reprinted with permission.