Early voting starts April 22 for local May races. Here’s what you need to know.

Local elections can include city council seats and school board candidates.

By Sarah AschApril 19, 2024 12:43 pm,

Local elections in Texas are held on the first Saturday in May, which this year falls on May 4. While some local entities have moved their elections to the fall, a lot of Texans will have the opportunity to cast a ballot this spring in races for things like city council or school board.

Early voting starts this upcoming Monday, April 22.

Turnout in local May elections – which don’t include any state or national ballot items – is usually much lower than in November elections. But some of the bond items and elected positions on the ballot have a big impact on people’s lives.

Katya Ehresman, the voting rights program manager at Common Cause Texas, said you can check your voter registration at votetexas.gov. However, if you have previously registered at your current address and voted before, you should be good to go for this election.

Ehresman said all you need to bring with you to vote is a valid photo ID – there are seven approved options – and any notes about candidates or items that you need to cast your ballot.

“You can’t use your phone in a voting booth, so write them down on a piece of paper and bring that in with you,” she said.

If you are not already registered, it is too late to vote in the May 4 local elections, but there is also a May 28 runoff election day for primary races that weren’t decided in March, Ehresman said.

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If you’re not sure if you have races to vote in this spring, you can check out the League of Women Voters’ site.

“It’ll actually pull up a sample ballot for you and let you know, not only do you have an election this May whether it’s May 4 or May 28, but also what’s on that ballot and some information as to how the candidates or bond items have been summarized and responded to,” she said.

Ehresman said low turnout often comes down to lack of information about election dates outside of big national races.

“People think elections and they think November. But there are so many really critical local elections that happen in March or in May, or sometimes special elections that happen later in the summer,” she said. “But that’s why it’s even more important for Texans to get out to vote this May, because every single vote really does make a difference. When the turnout is so low, it could be the difference between a dozen individuals casting their ballots for or against a candidate.”

One big issue Common Cause is tracking at the moment is the influx of money into politics, Ehresman said.

“We’re seeing an onslaught of money in politics,” she said. “Billionaires, out of state and PACs spending billions in record amounts of money in these races and in attempting to really bribe and buy the Texas House.

“And so, you know, really what we’re looking at is not only turnout as a voting rights issue in these local and small elections in May, but really the impact of unregulated campaign finance in Texas in that May primary runoff for a lot of those Texas House seats.”

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