RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Election officials warn that changes to voting laws could slow the process down compared to years past.

In order to vote in the March 1 primary election, you need to be registered to vote by Monday, January 31st.

Those who qualify to vote by mail in the primary election will have to request a mail-in ballot with their county’s elections office by February 18.

Just like voting in person, individuals must prove their identity to receive the ballot.

Individuals will be required to provide “either a driver’s license number, a personal identification number, an election identification certificate, or the last four digits of your social security number,” said Remi Garza, the Cameron County elections administrator. “Any one of those pieces of information, as long as it matches what we have in our system, we’ll be able to accept the application.”

The last sentence is the key: the identification one provides must match what the counties have in the system, meaning if an individual originally registered to vote by providing a driver’s license number, they must provide that number again.

Anyone who sends an application with a different form of I.D. will be rejected.

Yvonne Ramon, the Hidalgo County elections administrator, suggested people play it safe when sending their applications.

“The best thing is to write your Texas driver’s license if you have one, write the last four digits of your social security number. That way you know that that application will be accepted.”

The new mail-in ballot application can be found on the county elections websites. Click here for Hidalgo County and here for Cameron County.

Ramon explained the new changes to the mail-in ballot in the video below.

Changes to the voting process, such as people who are assisting voters having to say an oath before they help, and more people having to vote in person than in the last election, could make voting take longer. 

Ramon said to not let that deter you.

“Let’s not be the kind of community that listens to people say ‘that’s why I don’t go vote’,” she said. “No, it should be ‘that’s why I go vote’. Because, when these decisions are made, we all need to have a voice and we all need to be strong in making sure that our voice is heard.”

Some states have banned volunteers from passing out food and water to people waiting in election lines. Texas hasn’t done that.

“As long as its not to induce someone to vote a certain way, or to induce someone to vote at all, it should be perfectly acceptable for people to make those kinds of volunteer efforts at polling places,” Garza said.