The Claude W. Black Community Center is a polling site.
The Claude W. Black Community Center is a polling site. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Get to know the City Council and mayoral candidates.

Monday marks the start of early voting in the 2021 municipal elections. San Antonians will have the chance to cast their votes for City Council and mayor, as well as in favor of or against Propositions A and B. Early voting runs through Tuesday, April 27, with election day on Saturday, May 1. 

All coronavirus precautions taken during the federal elections in November will again be in place, Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said. 

“Everything will be just how we did it in November,” Callanen said. “We’re protecting our officials with masks and the Plexiglas face shields, gloves and wipes. And for voters, we’re still offering gloves or a new pencil.”

The new pencil can double both for signing paperwork and as a stylus on the electronic voting machines, she said. Trash cans will be available by the exits of all polling stations for voters to throw away their gloves or pencils if they wish to, Callanen added. 

County officials are expecting 10% to 12% voter turnout, as is typical with spring elections, Callanen said. Whereas in the 2019 mayoral election, approximately 7,700 voters requested mail-in ballots, this year’s spring election has seen more than 10,000 mail-in ballot requests, Callanen said.

“So it’s gone up a little bit but it’s not a huge jump,” she said. “We’re expecting everything to be on par with past spring elections.”

Where can I vote?

The Bexar County Elections Department expects to have 36 early voting locations for the May elections. Find hours and locations here. Voters are no longer confined to specific precincts on election day and can vote at any Bexar County polling location on May 1.

What about absentee ballots?

You can vote by mail if you are:

  • Going to be away from your county on election day and during early voting
  • Sick or disabled
  • 65 years of age or older on election day
  • Confined in jail, but eligible to vote

The Texas Supreme Court determined in May that not having immunity to the novel coronavirus is not a “disability” and does not qualify a voter to cast a ballot by mail. But the court also said that voters can consider their own health and health history to decide whether or not to apply to vote by mail due to disability.

You can request an application for an absentee ballot from the elections department, or print one out here. Applications for absentee ballots must be received by the elections department by April 20, 11 days before election day. And for your vote to count, it must be received by 7 p.m. May 1.

What do I need to bring with me to vote?

You need to provide one of the following seven forms of identification:

  • Texas driver’s 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 handgun license issued by DPS
  • U.S. military identification card containing your photograph
  • U.S. citizenship certificate containing your photograph
  • U.S. passport (book or card)

If you don’t have one of the seven forms of identification listed above and can’t reasonably get one, you can bring one of these:

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

If your name for some reason does not appear on the list of registered voters but you did register to vote in time, you can cast a provisional ballot.

What’s on the ballot?

In San Antonio, your ballot will show the candidates for your council district as well as for mayor. To learn more about who’s on the ballot and where they stand on key issues, read the San Antonio Report’s Q&A with the candidates here.

There also are a few propositions on the ballot to look out for. A citizen-driven petition put the repeal of Chapter 174’s implementation in San Antonio up to voters; that chapter of Texas Local Government Code allows police to collectively bargain their labor contracts with the city. And San Antonio voters will be asked to expand the use of bond money beyond public works through a proposed charter amendment.

The City of San Antonio is not the only Bexar County municipality that has items on the ballot. The following suburban cities will hold their own elections:

  • City of Alamo Heights
  • City of Balcones Heights
  • City of Castle Hills
  • City of Converse
  • City of Helotes
  • Town of Hollywood Park
  • City of Kirby
  • City of Leon Valley
  • City of Live Oak
  • City of Shavano Park
  • City of Somerset
  • City of St. Hedwig
  • City of Terrell Hills

Not all of these municipalities have council seats on the ballot; Alamo Heights is asking voters to weigh in on a street and maintenance tax, while Converse has two annexations and a charter item on the ballot.

The Alamo Heights, Harlandale, Judson, Northside, and San Antonio independent school districts are electing board of trustee members. Read more about those races here.

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Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report.