March 1 is your final chance to decide who will be vying for key elected positions, such as county judge and district attorney.

If you’re looking to join the over 100,000 Tarrant County residents who have already voted in this year’s primary election, here’s what you need to know before venturing out to cast your ballot:

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can look up your voter registration status, find your polling location and get a sample ballot by entering your name and date of birth here. You can find a full list of polling locations on the Tarrant County website. Tarrant County allows voters to cast their ballot at any polling location across the county.

How do primaries work in Tarrant County and why do we have them?

Texas has open primaries, meaning voters are not required to choose a political party when they register to vote. Primary elections are organized by the parties alongside election administrators. When you arrive at your polling place you will choose whether you want a Republican or Democratic primary ballot. The winner of each primary election will move on to the general election where they will face an opponent from the opposite party. 

Voters have to provide a form of photo identification at the polls. Forms of ID can be expired up to four years. Acceptable forms of identification are: 

  • Texas driver license 
  • Texas election identification certificate
  • Texas personal identification card 
  • Texas gun license
  • United States military identification card with a photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate with a photograph
  • United States passport (book or card) 

If you don’t have an ID when you arrive, you will have to fill out a form declaring why you couldn’t obtain photo identification and bring a supporting form of ID. Alternative forms of identification include a government document that includes your name and an address such as a voter registration certificate, or a utility bill, a bank statement or a paycheck. 

What your ballot will look like and how you will vote

Sample ballots are available in English and Spanish, or English and Vietnamese. You are not allowed to use electronic devices within 100 feet of voting stations, according to the Texas Secretary of State. However, you can bring written notes to a polling location. 

Tarrant County allows you to look up your ballot so that you can download and print it. You can bring out your filled ballot to the polling place to reference as you cast your votes. It will not be considered a substitute for filling out the ballot. 

Tarrant County uses the  Hart InterCivic Verity Voting System that combines a paper ballot with the accuracy of an electronic voting machine. The county started using the voting system in 2019

When you check in at the voting center you will receive a blank piece of paper and a small slip with an access code. You will type in the access code to display your ballot on the electronic screen, then insert the blank piece of paper into the machine. You will select your candidates electronically through the machine display, review your choices and then print your ballot where you can review your choices a second time. Finally you will insert your paper ballot back into the machine where it will be dropped into the ballot box. 

Voting with special needs 

Tarrant County voters can catch a free ride to the polls with Trinity Metro services, and in Arlington you can get free transportation from Via or Handitran. Riders who show their voter registration or current Texas ID will ride for free on election day. To use Via in Arlington download the app, type in the address of a vote center and enter the code ARNVOTE2021. If you qualify for ACCESS Paratransit through Trinity Metro you can schedule a ride to a vote center 48 hours in advance by calling 817-215-8600.

Tarrant County has software available to make voting easier for voters who are blind, have limited vision, or limited dexterity that prevents them from marking the ballot without assistance. 

Senate Bill 1, the voting bill passed by the Texas Legislature last year, has caused concerns among disability activists. Now, people assisting someone else at the polls have to disclose their relationship to the voter, whether or not they are being compensated and recite an oath that includes language stating, under the penalty of perjury, that they did not pressure or coerce the voter into choosing them for assistance.

Full expanded oath outlined in Senate Bill 1:

“I swear (or affirm) under penalty of perjury that the voter I am assisting represented to me they are eligible to receive assistance; I will not suggest, by word, sign, or gesture, how the voter should vote; I will confine my assistance to reading the ballot to the voter, directing the voter to read the ballot, marking the voter’s ballot, or directing the voter to mark the ballot; I will prepare the voter’s ballot as the voter directs; I did not pressure or coerce the voter into choosing me to provide assistance; [and] I am not the voter’s employer, an agent of the voter’s employer, or an officer or agent of a labor union to which the voter belongs; I will not communicate information about how the voter has voted to another person; and I understand that if assistance is provided to a voter who is not eligible for assistance, the voter’s ballot may not be counted.”

If you’re unable to walk to stand for long periods of time, you can cast your vote curbside. An election officer will bring a ballot to the voter for them to mark and then take that ballot back to a secure ballot box. 

Tarrant County provides a pamphlet of voter rights for quick reference. You can also call the Tarrant County elections office at 817-831-8683 with any questions or concerns. Also, call or email the Fort Worth Report at 817-405-9318 and news@fortworthreport.org to report any voting problems. 

How our coverage can help 

Not sure who to vote for? Visit the Fort Worth Report’s Election Central for the latest election news. We have in-depth articles on nearly every local race. 

You can also visit our Youtube channel to watch the Republican and Democratic candidates for County Judge and District Attorney debate some of the most important issues of the race:

Commissioners Court: 

District Attorney: 

U.S. House:

Texas Legislature: 

Judges: 

Other Explainers:

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Rachel Behrndt

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for fortworthreport.org. She can be reached at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org

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