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Early voting began Monday at the Panola County Elections Office in the July 14 primary runoffs.

Few local races are on the runoff ballot for the election that Gov. Greg Abbott delayed from May to July after the coronavirus pandemic hit the state.

Voters participating in the Democratic primary will decide the outcome in two statewide races. Most notably, state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, is facing decorated Air Force veteran MJ Hegar in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat. The winner will face U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in November. The other statewide Democratic primary runoff is between Roberto R. “Beto” Alonzo and Chrysta Castaneda for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, a regulatory agency that oversees the oil and natural gas industry. The winner will face Republican Jim Wright, who upset incumbent Ryan Sitton in the March primary.

How to Vote

Early voting ends July 10.

Residents who voted in the Republican primary in March cannot cross parties and vote in the Democratic primary, but those who voted in the Democratic primary or who didn’t vote in the March primary can cast their ballots beginning Monday.

Early voting is taking place in Room 100 at the Panola County courthouse, which is on the first floor near the Wellington Street entrance. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and early voting will be available during lunchtime.

Election Day is July 14 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at individual precinct polling places throughout the county.

Voters must have one of seven approved forms of photo ID at the polls. Voters who do not possess ID and cannot reasonably obtain one can execute a Reasonable Impediment Declaration form and provide a supporting form of identification.

The seven forms of approved photo ID are:

  • Texas Driver License issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (not required to be REAL ID license)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas Personal Identification Card issued by DPS
  • Texas Handgun License 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 (book or card)

With the exception of the U.S. Citizenship Certificate, which does not expire, the acceptable photo ID must be current or, for voters aged 18-69, have expired no more than four years before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place. A voter 70 years of age or older may use a form of acceptable photo ID listed above that has expired for any length of time if the identification is otherwise valid.

If a voter does not possess one of the forms of acceptable photo identification listed above, and the voter cannot reasonably obtain such identification, the voter may fill out a Reasonable Impediment Declaration form, which will be available at each polling location, and present a copy or original of one of the following supporting forms of identification:

  • a government document that shows the voter’s name and an address, including the voter’s voter registration certificate
  • a current utility bill
  • a bank statement
  • a government check
  • a paycheck
  • a certified domestic (from a U.S. state or territory) birth certificate
  • a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes the voter’s identity (which may include a foreign birth document)

The address on an acceptable form of photo identification or a supporting form of identification, if applicable, does not have to match the voter’s address on the list of registered voters.

Call the Panola County Elections Office at (903) 693-0370 with any questions. Voters can also visit votetexas.gov for more information how to vote.

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs is encouraging all eligible voters to take advantage of the extended early voting period and to follow recommended health guidelines amidst COVID-19.

“Despite COVID-19, the drumbeat of our democracy has marched on,” Hughs said. “I strongly encourage all eligible Texans to set aside time now so they can be prepared to cast a ballot during the early voting period or on Election Day. It is essential to our democracy that Texans are able to safely and confidently cast their vote.”