Step out of line for democracy
AUSTIN — In 43 days early voting begins in Texas. If you requested a ballot by mail, you are likely to receive your ballot in about 30 days.
Texas makes it harder to vote by mail than many states because you must request a ballot. To qualify on your application, you must be 65 or older, disabled, in jail, or out of the county at the time of the election and early voting. It is the voter that makes the determination on disability. If you haven’t yet requested a ballot by mail, don’t wait. Follow the instructions below.
The Trump administration, in league with Postmaster General DeJoy, has instilled fear in many who intended to vote by mail. You can counteract that fear campaign by being vigilant about deadlines, mailing your ballot early, and learning about options for hand delivering a ballot.
It is more important than ever to make plans. The Texas Alliance for Retired Americans (TARA) has been working in tandem with many other groups to make sure that Texans can vote in the safest way possible.
First, be aware of upcoming deadlines:
- October 5 is the last day to register to vote. That means your registration must be received by this date. If you haven’t done it yet, do it now. https://register2vote.org/index.html
- October 23 is the last day to request a ballot to vote by mail. That means that your application must be received by this date. https://register2vote.org/?appIntent=vbm
- October 13-30 is early voting.
- November 3 is Election Day.
- November 4 is the deadline for a mailed ballot to be received and counted.
If you have requested a ballot in the mail, double check with your county clerk to make sure your request has been received. Do it now so that you still have time to request a ballot if you need to do so.
Although the legal deadlines are posted above, you should outsmart possible mail delays by allowing two weeks for the ballot to be mailed to you and two weeks for the ballot to be received at the elections office after you mail it. Allow for ample time when mailing voter registration applications as well. Do not delay.
Expect to receive your ballot the last week of September or the first week of October. Familiarize yourself with the ballot in advance. Review candidates and ballot measures ahead of time so you can make an informed decision when voting. The League of Women Voters is an excellent nonpartisan resource for this information. https://my.lwv.org/texas.
If you have not received your ballot in the mail before October 20, or haven’t mailed it back by then, you should use delivery options other than mail if at all possible.
Hand delivery is accepted at all County Clerk business offices in the state during regular business hours (8-5) every day up to, and including, Election Day. Call your county clerk or check their website for the location. Park your car. Wear a mask. Bring ID. Go inside and hand deliver your ballot.
Drive thru delivery may be available in your county. Plans are underway to provide this option in Travis County and Harris County. With this option, you will not need to leave your car. There will be a sign-in sheet. A county official will check your ID, take your ballot, and put it into a ballot box. Please wear a mask for your own safety. Again, check with your county clerk for availability of this option as well as location. Drive thru delivery is not permitted at polling locations and Texas law does not permit drop boxes.
Voting in person at early voting sites begins October 13-30. The safety precautions taken during the July runoff elections worked well and will be in place at all polling locations throughout the state. If you have received a ballot by mail, and decide to vote in person, take the ballot and surrender it at the polling location. If you don’t take your ballot, you will be advised to cast a provisional ballot.
Curbside voting at a polling site is only available to those that qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Polling locations will not be able to bring voting machines to more than a few voters using this method. Only use this option if you qualify under ADA.
[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).]