AUSTIN, Texas - Ahead of the November election, Travis County is considering sending mail-in ballot applications to each and every resident over the age of 65. The proposal came from Commissioner Jeff Travillion after seeing the Austin Public Health COVID-19 update.
Dr. Mark Escott presented data showing new cases and hospitalizations on a downward trend. The numbers also detailed how the most vulnerable population is impacted by the life-threatening virus. People who are over the age of 60 account for close to 45 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“I think we should seriously consider and work to support making sure that all of our 65 and older have their ballots mailed to them rather than have them go into the voting booth this year,” said Travillion. “As these numbers grow and these are our most vulnerable population, they deserve to make sure that we keep them as safe as possible.”
Dr. Escott echoed in support of the proposal.
“We are still in the situation where we want those who are 65 and older to stay home,” said Dr. Escott. “We must protect them as well as we can. We must cocoon them to really limit their risk of spread. I think that will be an important step in furthering that protection.”
The move would be a first for Travis County who saw an increase in mail-in ballots this past election. 33,000 people requested applications and about 25,000 were processed. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said sending a mail-in ballot application could be a tall order.
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“We are talking about approximately 120,000 applications sent to voters here in Travis County who are over 65,” said DeBeauvoir. “That is our beginning amount.”
The Travis County Clerk’s Office implemented a number of health protocols to make the primary voting process a safe one. DeBeauvoir said an extra million was spent on PPE, contracts, devices to help voting run smoothly.
“Those were quite expensive and we intend to repeat the social distancing and the other safety features because it really worked well,” said DeBeauvoir. “Voters will feel so much better having in-person voting that is as safe as it can possibly be.”
Travis County will work with the Travis County Clerk's office to see if sending applications for mail-in ballots is feasible.
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