The 2020 election is fast approaching, and patrons will be looking to the library for voting and election information. TSLAC’s CEC team has organized a collection of resources that may assist librarians in providing the public with information on voting logistics and other election information. Please note, according to Chapter 20 Section 20.001(c) of the Texas Election Code: c) Each public library, including any branch or other service outlet, is designated as a voter registration agency. In this chapter, “public library” means a library that:
(1) is regularly open for business for more than 30 hours a week;
(2) is operated by a single public agency or board;
(3) is open without charge to all persons under identical conditions; and
(4) receives its financial support wholly or partly from public funds.
If your library meets the definition above, then you are a designated voter registration agency. You must provide to each person of voting age who applies in person for an original or renewal of a library card an opportunity to complete a voter registration application form, and may also be required to take various steps to ensure proper completion of the form by the applicant and submission of the form to the local voter registrar or to the Secretary of State.
Texas Voting Information and Resources
- VOTETEXAS.gov is a site maintained by the Texas Secretary of State that includes some great resources like an informational pamphlet on voting and cards/posters for voter identification requirements. Additionally, VoteTexas.gov provides valuable information for voters with disabilities and includes information about mail-in voting.
- The League of Women Voters of Texas is an excellent resource for voting information. New for the 2020 voting cycle, the League has included a Voting & the Coronavirus guide with tips on making trips to the polls safer during this pandemic. For more in-depth information on specific voting precincts and polling locations, visit VOTE411.org.
- Texas Vote 2020 is a project by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. Resources include important dates to share, voter eligibility and registration information, links to official government sites, as well as information related to accessibility and access.
- The Texas Secretary of State’s webpage, offers ballot by mail information, including eligibility, access to the Application for Ballot by Mail (ABBM) form, and instructions on how to submit the ABBM form.
National Voting Information and Resources
- The Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) has an extensive LibGuide for voter registration, ID requirements for Texas voters, casting a ballot in Texas, elections, and general resources on voting and elections.
- Ballotpedia is a nonprofit/nonpartisan organization that maintains a digital encyclopedia of American politics and elections. Its Texas voter guide offers current election information as well as some historical information on past elections. The organization also includes election administration costs from the National Conference of State Legislatures that describes how elections are paid from state to state.
- VoteRiders provides information to voters to ensure they have the right ID for voting day. The site offers wallet-sized printable cards with all the voter ID information for Texas, which you can hand out to your patrons.
- Voteearlyday.org has an easy to use resource to look up your early voting eligibility by state, as well as a quick link to voting overseas for active-duty military, deployed National Guard, military family, merchant marine, and civilians.
Inclusive Voting & Outreach Resources
- The National Coalition for the Homeless has created a Homeless and Low-Income Voter Rights Manual, which includes useful examples for voter registration outreach and encouraging reluctant voters.
- Many Americans with felony convictions are able to vote but just don’t know they can. Restore Your Vote allows individuals to determine if they are eligible to vote in their state. A flyer is included for posting.
- Transform the Vote, a project of the National Center for Transgender Equity Action Fund, provides resources and information for individuals. One of the resources that this website provides is a printable #VotingWhileTrans Guide that individuals can show poll workers if their identity or eligibility is questioned. Resources are available in both English and Spanish.
Trainings and Webinars
- The American Library Association (ALA) is encouraging libraries to sign up to participate in the National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), a nation-wide day of action on September 22, 2020. Sign up to be a National Voter Registration Day partner site. ALA recently hosted a webinar on how you can participate, you can watch the recording here.
- The American Librarian Association Voter Engagement webpage provides outreach materials, engagement guides, and toolkits.
- National Voter Registration Day offers webinars on voter registration and in-person and online national voter registration day events. The organization also provided recorded webinars of previous offerings.
- Rock the Vote’s Democracy Class is a free curriculum and training materials for teaching high school students about voting and democracy. The materials include resources for voter registration and pre-registration.
These resources are provided for informational purposes, and librarians are urged to review the sites to determine which resources might best address local needs. If you have any questions about the voting process or information available on any site, the Secretary of State is the official agency to oversee elections in the state.