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With Early Voting at its midpoint and the height of election season firmly upon us, many folks will be heading to their local polling locations to cast their vote for the future of their city and their country. Here are a few things you should know before you go into the voting booth.

1. As A Voter; Know Your Rights

Much has been made over voter rights these past few months. Redistricting and potential changes to the Voter ID laws have left many wondering what casting their ballot will entail. As a Texas Voter you can:

  • Bring with you EITHER your voter registration card or a valid ID to cast your vote. Even a utility bill will work! As long as it identifies you, you’re good to go.
  • Ask the polling place official for assistance if you need help casting your ballot.
  • Receive up to two more ballots if you make a mistake while voting.
  • Bring an interpreter to assist you if you do not understand the English language.

2. Be Informed

As a voter, you should stay informed on all candidates and issues pertaining to this year’s ballot.

  • Download a sample ballot to preview on the Secretary of State’s website.
  • Learn about all candidates and issues at the local, state, and federal level.
  • The people who we elect today will have a great impact on our lives tomorrow.

3. Take Out Doubt

At this point, you’ve informed yourself on all of the candidates and issues important to you. Go into the voting booth with confidence.

  • Find comfort in your prior research; know that you are casting an educated vote.
  • Don’t be intimidated by the “loud” environment at the polling location. There will be a lot of sings and people at your poll – don’t allow them to sway your vote.
  • Visit non-partisan fact checking sites like factcheck.org to make sure that you are getting only the facts.

4. Be Prepared

  • Vote as early as possible so that if anything comes up, you have time to fix it.
  • If you’re waiting until Election Day to vote, double-check to see where your polling location is.
  • Know what times polling locations are open. On Election Day, polls are open from 7 am until 7 pm.
  • Check to see what time the closest polling location to you is open during Early Vote by visiting http://www.votetexas.org.

Well, that’s it. By following these four easy steps you can help make sure that your voting experience during this election goes without a hitch. Remember, voting early is the easiest way to avoid the Election Day lines and the best way to make sure that your ballot is cast correctly. By taking these steps, you can rest assured that your voice will be heard.

And, most importantly, go out and VOTE! Voting is what makes this country so great and it is your choice to have your voice heard. This election is an important one and by casting your vote, you can help shape the way our lives are governed for years to come.

Dallas S. Jones is the President/CEO of Elite Change, Inc. a public affairs and political consulting firm with offices in Houston, Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Washington, DC.

He resides in the 3rd Ward community with his wife Angela Lopez Jones.

Related: What Should We Expect To See During Final Debate [OPINION]

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