Editor’s note: Find more election resources on our Vote 2020 page.
With an intense election season underway amid a historic pandemic, the focus on mail-in voting has never been greater.
The absentee (or mail) votes are expected to make up a significant portion of the ballots cast in the 2020 election. While Texas, unlike the majority of states, did not expand the pool of voters who are eligible to cast ballots via mail this year, polling has shown an increased interest among those that are eligible.
In Bexar County, of the 91,000 ballots that have been mailed to voters that requested them, roughly 10,000 have already been turned in, Elections Administrator Jacqueline Callanen said on Monday.
But mail-in voting has a different procedure that voters should be aware of before sending off their ballot. Here’s what you need to know about mail-in voting:
The deadline to request your mail-in ballot is Oct. 23.
In Texas, registered voters can apply for a mail-in ballot if they 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 application must be submitted to the elections department no later than Oct. 23.
Filling out the ballot
Be sure to follow the instructions that are included with the mail-in ballot.
When voters receive their ballot, they are supposed to mark the ballot and place it in the envelope marked “ballot envelope,” according to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office.
That envelope should be placed in the carrier envelope and the carrier envelope must be signed on the back near the flap where the X is placed. The signature on the envelope will be compared to the signature on the mail ballot application.
Callanen said that voters forgetting to sign the carrier envelope is the most common reason that ballots are rejected.
If election judges suspect that the signature does not match the one on the ballot application, they must notify the voter to give them a “meaningful opportunity” to correct the problem, according to a recent federal court ruling.
Don’t want to send your ballot through the mail?
Earlier this year, the United States Postal Service made headlines due to cost-cutting measures that were expected to lead to delays in mail service.
For voters who are worried that their ballot will get lost in the mail, they can bring the marked ballot and carrier envelope to the early voting clerk at the Elections Department office at 1103 S. Frio St. The mail ballots can be dropped off at the site until 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Changed your mind about voting by mail?
After requesting and receiving their mail ballot, voters may decide they’d rather vote in-person.
They will be allowed to vote in person, but a process must be followed first.
Voters who have received a mail-in ballot must bring that empty ballot with them and sign a cancellation form from the election clerk before being able to vote in-person.
Tracking your ballot
For the first time, the elections department has created a mail ballot tracker to give voters additional assurance that their ballot was received and counted.
To check on the progress of their ballot, voters will need to enter their last name and birthday, along with their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number.