Early voting begins today in the state, and East Texans should prepare before going to the polls, officials say.

“Wear a mask, and bring a photo ID,” Gregg County Elections Administrator Kathryn Nealy said.

Nealy is encouraging voters to use branch locations throughout the county to avoid potential long lines and wait times at the courthouse and Greggton Community Center. There are 10 total locations in Gregg County and three weeks to early vote.

“The middle week might be a good time to go,” Nealy said, adding that many people either go during the first few days or wait until the last minute.

Nealy said she is asking voters to look at the branch locations to see if there is a location closer to home or work in an effort to avoid busier polling places.

The Texas Medical Association also is urging Texans to be safe when voting during the pandemic.

“Voting can be made safe by following the public health guidelines,” TMA President Dr. Diana L. Fite said in a release. “A little planning goes a long way.”

For those who don’t qualify for a mail-in ballot and are planning to vote in person, the association echoed Nealy and said voters could consider avoiding crowds by looking for less-busy polling locations and times.

Safety tips for voting in person include staying at least six feet away from others, bringing your own writing utensil if needed, washing or disinfecting your hands before and after voting, wearing a face mask and staying home if you’re sick.

Early voting runs through Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 3.

Gregg County

Early voting hours for Gregg County Courthouse, 101 E. Methvin St. in Longview:

8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Oct. 13 — 16

7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Oct. 17

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Oct. 18

8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Oct. 19 – 23

7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Oct. 24

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Oct. 25

7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Oct. 26 – 30

Early voting hours for branch locations:

8 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Oct.13 – 16

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Oct. 17

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Oct. 18

8 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Oct. 19 — 23

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Oct. 24

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Oct. 25

8 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Oct. 26 – 30

Branch locations:

Community Connections, 501 Pine Tree Road in Longview

White Oak Community Center, Center St. in White Oak

Sabine Old Elementary Cafeteria, Texas 135 N in Liberty City

Elderville Community Center, 10450 Texas 349 in Longview

Longview Community Center, 500 E Whaley St. in Longview

Kilgore Community Center, 622 Kay St. in Kilgore

Broughton Recreation Center, 801 S Martin Luther King in Longview

Judson Community Center, 1129 FM 1844 in Longview

Greggton Community Center, 3211 W Marshall Ave. in Longview

Rusk County

Early voting hours for Rusk County Elections Office, 204 N. Main St. in Henderson

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 — 17

Closed Oct. 18

7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Oct. 19 – 23

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 24

Closed Oct. 25

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 26 – 30

Upshur County

Early voting hours for Gilmer Civic Center, 1218 U.S. 271 N in Gilmer:

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 – 17

10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Oct. 18

7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Oct. 19 – 23

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 24

Closed Oct. 25

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 26 – 30

Harrison County

Early voting hours for Harrison County Elections Office, 415 E. Burleson St. in Marshall:

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 – 16

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 19 – 22

7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Oct. 23

9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 24

10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 25

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 26 – 29

7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Oct. 30

Early voting hours for branch locations:

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 – 16

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 19 – 22

7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Oct. 23

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 26 – 29

7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Oct. 30

Branch locations:

Waskom Sub-Courthouse, 165 W. Texas Ave. in Waskom

Harleton Community Center, 4335 Community St. in Harleton

Gold Hall Community Center, 101 E. Elm St. in Hallsville

ESD 9 Elysian Fields, 130 FM 451 in Elysian Fields

Woodland Hills Baptist Church, 2105 E. Loop 281 in Longview

T.J. Taylor Community Center, 15642 FM 134 in Karnack

Panola County

Early voting hours for Panola County Elections Office, 110 S. Sycamore St., Room 100 in Carthage:

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 — 16

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 19 – 23

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 26 – 30

Courtney Stern is a public safety reporter covering a wide range of topics. She grew up in Baltimore and later earned a journalism degree from the University of Miami. Stern moved to East Texas from Iowa with her husband and two dogs, Pebbles and Bam Bam.