Concerned about COVID-19? A guide on how to vote by mail in Texas
AUSTIN, Texas - With serious health concerns over in-person voting at polling stations amid the coronavirus pandemic, more Americans will be voting by mail this year than in any election in the nation’s history.
Voters in eight states, including Texas, need an excuse to obtain an absentee ballot. For voters in these states, in-person voting at polling stations remains the main option for casting a ballot.
To be eligible to vote early by mail in Texas, you must:
- be 65 years or older
- be sick or disabled
- be out of the county on election day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance
- be confined in jail, but otherwise eligible
Registered voters can qualify to vote by mail if they are 65 years or older, cite a disability or an illness, or are confined in jail but still eligible to vote. Even though the law also permits mail voting for those with a disability or illness, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in May that the risk of contracting coronavirus was not in itself a valid reason to use mail-in ballots.
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Voters who will not be in the county where they're registered on Election Day and during the entire early voting period can also request a ballot by mail.
How can I submit an application to vote by mail?
You should request your ballot as far in advance of the election as possible. To apply for a mail-in ballot, you must deliver a completed application for ballot by mail to your county elections office. Applications can be dropped off in person before the start of early voting, which begins Tuesday, October 13 for the general election.
Local election officials must receive mailed applications by Friday, October 23. Applications can also be submitted by fax or email, but the county must receive a hard copy within four business days.
You can print out your own application, contact your local elections office to receive one, or request one from the secretary of state’s office. Contact information for early voting clerks in every county can be found here.
Military or overseas voters can obtain an application here.
When your ballot arrives, read it carefully and follow the instructions to complete it and return it.
When is the deadline to request to vote by mail?
Local election officials must receive mailed applications by Friday, October 23.
When does my ballot need to be received in order to be counted?
Send your ballot in as soon as possible. The absolute latest that your county can receive your ballot is 7 pm on Election Day (if it’s not postmarked) or 5 pm the day after Election Day (as long as it’s postmarked by 7 pm on Election Day).
Do I need postage?
It depends on where you live, some counties may pay postage for you.
If you printed the application you must place it in your own envelope and add postage. If you ordered the application online and it was mailed to you - fold the application in half, moisten the top tab, seal, and add postage.
Who can I call to make sure my ballot is received?
You can call your county elections office. Click here to find the contact information.
Does voting by mail lead to massive voter fraud?
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President Donald Trump has repeated the unfounded claim that voting by mail will lead to massive voter fraud — even raising the idea of delaying the Nov. 3 presidential election and stating he opposes additional funding for the U.S. Postal Service in order to handle the influx of ballots.
But according to top election officials and research on the subject, incidents of voter fraud are “very, very low.”