Get more election news on KSAT’s Vote 2022 page.
The process of voting by mail, or absentee voting, in Texas has changed since the last midterm election in 2018.
The new process caused issues during the March Primary resulting in more than 12% of mail-in ballots being rejected in Texas. That percentage was even higher in Bexar County, where nearly 22% of ballots were rejected.
Most of the rejected voters were tripped up over a new requirement to write either their state ID number or the last four digits of their social security number on their return envelope.
By the May municipal election, the percentage of rejected ballots was only about 3%, which voting officials took as a good sign that voters were getting the message about the changes.
Now, with the General Election approaching, it’s time for a refresher about the procedures.
The last day to submit an application for a ballot by mail is Oct. 28 and here are some things you need to know about the process.
Here are the main changes under SB 1 when it comes to mail or absentee voting:
- There is a NEW application for 2022. The old applications will not be accepted.
- An application must be submitted in writing and signed in ink — electronic signatures, photocopied signatures or signatures in pencil are NOT allowed.
- Election officials may not distribute mail-in ballots or an application for a mail-in ballot to anyone who did not submit a request for an application.
- Early voting applications and ballots must include the applicant’s driver’s license number or Department of Public Safety-issued personal identification number (PIN). Voters must use the same number on the ballot and the application. An applicant without a driver’s license or DPS PIN must declare that and include the last four digits of their social security number. If a voter uses a different number on the application and ballot, the ballot will be rejected.
Bexar County voters who are interested in voting by mail must submit this application to the Bexar County Elections Department.
The applications must be received — not postmarked — no later than 11 days before Election Day, or Oct. 28.
Because of the changes to the application process, you may want to send your application in well before the Oct. 28 deadline.
That way, if your application is rejected because it wasn’t filled out according to the new rules, you have time to submit a corrected one.
The League of Women Voters of the San Antonio area has issued a guide for filling out an early voting application. They recommend using both your driver’s license/state ID number and the last four digits of your Social Security number to avoid issues.
If you have questions about the application process, call the Bexar County Elections Office at 210-335-0362.
Keep reading for what you need to know about mail-in voting.
Who can vote by mail?
U.S. Armed Forces and Merchant Marines, their dependents and U.S. citizens who live abroad can vote early by mail. For more information, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website.
Mail/absentee ballot voting is also available to elderly voters and voters with physical disabilities.
You may be eligible to vote by mail if you are:
- 65 years of age or older on Election Day
- Sick or disabled
- Going to be away from your county on Election Day and during early voting
- Out-of-state college students who still claim a Texas address as their primary residence
- Confined in jail, but eligible to vote
You must apply to vote by mail each year in Texas.
So if you hope to vote by mail in the November General Election, you must submit the new application.
How do I vote by mail?
When county elections officers determine you are eligible to vote by mail based on your application, they will send you a blank absentee ballot electronically or by mail.
After filling out the ballot and signing across the sealed flap of the envelope (the signature must match your signature on the ballot and application), Bexar County voters must mail their absentee ballots to this address:
Bexar County Elections (Early Voting Clerk)
1103 S. Frio St., Suite 200
San Antonio, TX 78207-6328
Click here to find out where to submit your application for ballot by mail in other Texas counties.
Absentee/mail-in ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots from overseas voters must be received by the 5th day after Election Day. Ballots from members of the armed forces must be received by the 6th day after Election Day. Members of the military and other overseas voters can track the status of their ballot online.
Hand-delivery of mail ballots is only allowed on Election Day. In Bexar County, those hand-delivered ballots must go to the elections office at 1103 S. Frio St., Suite 200. They will not be accepted at polling places and voters will need to present a valid ID.
The ballots must contain a signature across the sealed flap and voters will be asked to sign a roster when they turn their ballots in.