Clarifying the voting process

Published 6:23 am Saturday, January 23, 2016

Selecting a candidate to vote for in the upcoming primaries is as important as knowing how to cast a vote on Election Day.

Orange Council Member Essie Bellfield told residents to make sure they are registered to vote.

“I don’t care who you vote for, as long as you vote,” Bellfield said during a speech after the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on Monday.

February 1, 2016 is the last day one can register to vote in order to cast a ballot in the March 1, 2016 Primary.

First step is register to vote.

One may be able to apply to register to vote in person at the following public facilities:

  • State or local voter registration and/or election offices
  • The department of motor vehicles
  • Public assistance agencies
  • Armed services recruitment centers
  • State-funded programs that serve people with disabilities

Any public facility that a state has designated as a voter registration agency

Orange County Election Administration is located at 206 Border Street in Orange. One can call the office at 409-882-7973 to request an application for voter registration or to update one’s current information by filling out a form.

To be eligible to vote, one must be:

  • A U.S Citizen
  • A resident of Orange County
  • Be 18 years of age. One may register at 17 years and 10 months of age.
  • Not be a convicted felon. Unless the sentence is completed, including probation or parole. One will need to check if re-registering is required.
  • Not be declared mentally incapacitated by a court of law.

A person who is diagnosed as being mentally ill, senile, or suffering from some other debility that prevents them from managing his own affairs may be declared mentally incompetent by a court of law, according to

A person who is finally convicted of a felony is not eligible to register to vote. Pursuant to Section 11.002 of the Texas Election Code (the “Code”), once a felon has successfully completed his or her punishment, including any term of incarceration, parole, supervision, period of probation, or has been pardoned, then that person is immediately eligible to register to vote, according to the Texas Secretary of State official website.

During a Primary Election, political parties elect their candidates to run against opposing candidates in the General Election.

Each political party is allowed only one candidate in the presidential election. Therefore, the primary election is the means to determine the party’s one official presidential candidate, so one will be asked if they are Democrat or Republican during the Primary Election. One can only vote as one party affiliate. The ballot will only show the names of those running for one’s selected party.

Once registered and selected the party of choice, one has three options for how to cast a ballot: By mail, early voting in person or voting in person on Election Day.

To qualify to vote by mail, one must request a Vote By Mail Application from the Orange County Election Office by calling 409-882-7973. The form must be completed and returned with a stamp.

To be eligible, one must be 65 or older, disabled, out of the county on Election Day and during early voting or confined in jail, but otherwise eligible to vote.

For early voting, Feb. 16 – Feb. 26, 2016, one must vote at one’s designated box location or at the Orange Public Library.

On Election Day, March 1, one must vote at one’s voting precinct/box. If unsure of what box or location, call Orange County Election Office before Election Day.

While one needs a voter registration card, one must also show identification.

Acceptable forms of ID are:

  • Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
  • Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
  • United States military identification card containing your photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate containing your photograph, or
  • United States Passport

While it is important to cast a vote during the election, it is pertinent to also encourage others to exercise their right as a citizen to get out and vote as well. Orange County typically has a low turnout for local elections when it matters most for their voice to be heard. Changes begin locally.