Early voting starts this week

Published 11:29 am Monday, October 24, 2016

Early voting for general and joint elections begins Oct. 24 and runs through Nov. 4.

An order given by a federal district court on Aug. 10 has changed certain requirements for voter identification for all elections held in Texas. One notable change has been the new four-year extension of an approved form of photo ID that has already expired.

Essentially, the approved form of photo ID may now be expired for up to four years before it will no longer be accepted at polling places.

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“Before it was 60 days; now it’s four years,” Theresa Goodness, chief deputy at the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office, said of the recent change.

“One thing I can say is it helps the elderly voters who stopped driving a while back,” Goodness said, pointing out that their Texas driver’s licenses should now be valid for a longer period of time after expiration — as long it falls within four years of the current date.

“Of course, you have to be registered to vote. That will be checked,” Goodness said. “Any registered voter can vote at any of the voting locations.”

Goodness said voters need to present their approved forms of photo ID at the polling places.

In the event that the voter does not have one of the seven forms of approved ID, Goodness said that an alternative would have the voter sign a declaration at the polls that would explain why the voter is reasonably unable to obtain one, as well as to provide one of the various forms of supporting documents in conjunction with it.

Goodness thought that hacking would not a concern because “the system is not on the Internet.”

“The actual equipment that’s cast by voters is hand-carried by the poll workers, the judge and the alternative judge of the different parties. It’s not on the Internet. There’s no way for hackers to get to it. It’s a stand-alone system.”

Goodness attributed a system of checks and balances and a chain of security as safeguards against possible rigging of the election process.

“There could be poll watchers. Candidates and parties can appoint their own poll monitors,” Goodness said. “There’s a form on the (Texas) Secretary of State website if you want to be a poll watcher.

“The Secretary of State can also send monitors. They do that from time to time.”

Goodness specified the type of election machine that the county is using.

“We use a Hart electronic voting system.

“It’s not a touch screen. The voter uses a wheel to highlight each candidate, then they have to hit the enter key to make their selection.”

The chief deputy was also adamant about early voters and regular ones being aware of their voting location options.

“We’re still trying to get word out that residents can use the voting centers in Jefferson County. There are 40 (non-early) voting places for elections and a voter can vote at any one time in the county. They no longer have to go to the precinct to vote,” Goodness said.

“Because of that, it’s all electronic voting — we have tablets to verify the voters and real-time updates.

“We only have paper ballots at Jefferson County Courthouse… but we really encourage people to use the electronic system and voting equipment.”

Goodness also encouraged the idea of early voting.

“We always try to encourage voters to vote as early as possible,” Goodness said. “The sooner you get out there and vote, the better you’ll be.

“Just be prepared if you do wait, you will be standing in a long line.”


[What follows are guidelines, locations, dates and times for early voting obtained from the official Jefferson County site (jeffersonelections.com) and the Vote Texas site (votetexas.gov.]

Voters should be aware that there are seven approved forms of photo ID that one must present at the time of voting. They are as follows:

  • 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 license to carry a handgun issued by DPS
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
  • United States passport

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the identification must be current or have expired no more than four years before being presented for voter qualification at the voting location.


Voters who do not possess an acceptable form of photo identification and cannot obtain one of the seven forms of approved photo identification due to a reasonable impediment may present a supporting form of identification and execute a Reasonable Impediment Declaration, noting the voter’s reasonable impediment to obtaining an acceptable form of photo identification, and stating that the voter is the same person on the presented supporting form of identification.

The list of the supporting forms of ID is as follows:

  • Valid voter registration certificate
  • Certified birth certificate (must be an original)
  • Copy of or original current utility bill
  • Copy of or original bank statement
  • Copy of or original government check
  • Copy of or original paycheck
  • Copy of or original government document with the voter’s name and address (the original document is required if its contains a photograph)

If a voter meets these requirements and is otherwise eligible to vote, the voter will be able to cast a regular ballot in the election.


There are 11 locations marked for early voting throughout Jefferson County.

Early voting locations, dates and hours are as follows:

  • Beaumont Courthouse-Main location, 1001 Pearl St., Beaumont, TX
  • Port Arthur Sub-Courthouse, 525 Lakeshore Dr., Port Arthur, TX
  • Rogers Park Recreation Center, 6540 Gladys, Beaumont, TX
  • Port Arthur Public Library, 4615 Ninth Ave., Port Arthur, TX
  • Theodore Johns Library, 4255 Fannett Rd., Beaumont, TX
  • John Paul Davis Community Center, 3580 E. Lucas, Beaumont, TX
  • Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library, 2715 Nederland Ave., Nederland, TX
  • Groves Recreation Center, 6150 39th St., Groves, TX
  • Effie & Wilton Hebert Library, 2025 Merriman St., Port Neches, TX

The dates and hours for the above locations are:

Mon.-Fri. Oct. 24-28: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Sat. Oct. 29: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Sun. Oct. 30: noon – 5 p.m.

Mon.-Fri. Oct. 31-Nov. 4: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Early voting locations, dates and hours for the precincts are as follows:

  • Jefferson Co. J.P. Pct. 4 Bldg., 19217 FM 365, Beaumont, TX
  • Precinct One Service Center, 1201 W. Hwy. 90, China, TX

The dates and hours for the above precincts are:

Sat. Oct. 29: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Sun. Oct. 30: Closed

Mon.-Fri. Oct. 31-Nov. 4: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.


[This and any further information regarding voting, early voting and other election matters can be found at the Jefferson County website (jeffersonelections.com) or at the Vote Texas website (votetexas.gov).]