AUSTIN — Get ready to step out of line for democracy for the national election on November 3, 2020. No doubt about it, this is the most important election of our lives. Our very democracy depends on voter turnout. That means you!! It’s so easy. If you can read this post, you can do it. Do it today. What the heck, do it right now! It takes two minutes. Seriously. Two minutes.
The Texas Alliance for Retired Americans (TARA) has been getting the word out about election deadlines and ways to register and apply for voting by mail. This post uses TARA messaging and reports on settlements to lawsuits filed by the Alliance for Retired Americans in Florida and Minnesota.
- 90 days until Election
- 62 days to Register
- 76 days until Early Voting
Here are some important dates:
Monday, October 5, 2020, is the deadline to register to vote;
Monday, October 19, 2020, is the first day of early voting in person;
Friday, October 23, 2020, is the deadline for receipt of ballot by mail application;
Friday, October 30, 2020, is the last day of early voting in person; and
Tuesday, November 3, 2020, is ELECTION DAY.
If you already applied to vote by mail, that is, vote absentee (they are one and the same) for the primary runoffs last month, chances are you are good to go for November. Did you check the box marked “annual” when you applied? If you are not 100% positive, then it’s a good idea to call your County Clerk’s office to be sure. There should be a live person to ask and they will look it up on the computer right then and there.
If you already applied to vote by mail but did not check “annual,” you will need to request that a ballot be mailed to you. We found an easier way to do that, thanks to register2vote.org. They will mail you a completed request form to sign and date; then you place it in the already addressed postage paid envelope provided and send it off to https://register2vote.org/?appIntent=vbm.
If you have not requested the application to vote by mail, go to
https://register2vote.org/?appIntent=vbm. They will mail you a completed request form for you to sign and date; then you place it in the already addressed postage-paid envelope provided and send it off. Questions about eligibility? If you are 65 or over, disabled (includes having a health concern about voting in person during a pandemic), or will be out of the county from October 13–October 3, then you are eligible. Do it today! We don’t want our local election offices to be overwhelmed at the last minute like they were for the runoffs.
If you need to register or know someone who does, here is the link: https://register2vote.org/index.html. You fill out the form online and they will send you the completed form to sign, date, and mail.
This year the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), working with its state chapters, has filed lawsuits to protect vote by mail and absentee voters in Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, and Florida. Here are the outcomes to two settlements that have been reached in Florida and Minnesota.
The State of Florida has agreed to inform voters of the availability of drop boxes for mail-in ballots and to mail unregistered but eligible voters information on how to register to vote.
The Florida Secretary of State will encourage county supervisors of elections to maximize the use of ballot drop boxes and early voting, and conduct training about CARES Act funding for prepaid postage for ballot return and CDC guidelines for polling places during the pandemic.
The Minnesota Secretary of State agreed to two demands by the Minnesota Alliance for the November 3 General Election:
- All mail ballots from registered voters will be accepted without requiring that another registered voter or a notary witness and sign the return envelope; and
- Ballots received within seven days after the November 3 Election Day will be accepted, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.
The Trump administration attacks on the postal service are ongoing. All Texans should fill out their mail in ballot as soon as they receive it. Get it in the mail! We are hopeful that we can work with county election officials so that drop boxes are available in Texas as they will be in Florida.
The lawsuit filed by the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans in conjunction with the NAACP and League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is ongoing. Depositions have been taken, all claims were adequately addressed, and TARA has received the Court’s order denying the Secretary of State’s motion to dismiss the case. TARA members are hopeful that a settlement can be reached in Texas to resolve concerns addressed in the lawsuit.
[Alice Embree is an Austin writer and activist who serves on the board of directors of the New Journalism Project and was a founder of The Rag, Austin’s legendary underground paper, in 1966.]
[Julie Fleming is an activist with the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans (TARA).]