Voting in Texas
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Posted by: Alyse Meyer
This is a major election year and the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that voters can access the polls. It is imperative that aging services providers consider the changes that are happening this year and help to overcome obstacles that may exist for older adults to access a polling place or obtain and submit a mail-in ballot. LeadingAge has developed a “What’s Your Voting Plan” toolkit that provides an easy-to-use self-assessment for both aging services providers and older adults to develop a plan to vote in this year’s election.
There are several options available to voters who are quarantined/isolated, such as in a long-term care facility, to allow them to vote differently than in-person voting on or before the day of the election. Read more
Voting Information for Residents and Long-Term Care Facilities
Click here to view voting information from the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Issued September 15, 2020.
Additionally, LeadingAge Texas has created this short informational guide to assist your families and residents in voting during the 2020 election.
November 3, 2020 is the date of this year’s general election. LeadingAge Texas has created this short informational guide to assist your families and residents in voting during the 2020 election.
Texas has four avenues for casting an election ballot:
1. Election Day Voting
2. Early Voting
3. Absentee Voting
4. Curbside Voting at Polling Location
Election Day Voting
Tuesday, November 3, is the date of the 2020 general election. Voters may follow the traditional approach to casting a ballot by driving to the voting location on that day.
Governor Greg Abbott announced an extension of early voting beginning on October 13 thru October 30.
Texas is An Absentee Ballot (not mail-in ballot) State
Part of the confusion around mailing a ballot is in the difference between a mail-in-ballot and an absentee ballot. Mail-in-elections are conducted when all voters automatically receive the ballots. Six states in the United States currently have their entire election conducted by a mail-in-ballot process. Texas is not one of those states.
Texas, like most states, follows an absentee ballot approach for voting by mail. A voter must request an absentee ballot ahead of the election.
The Texas League of Women Voters has compiled this video and website explaining the process of requesting and acquiring an absentee ballot.
Texas voters can qualify for mail-in ballots only if they are in one of these categories:
- 65 years or older
- Have disability or illness
- Out of the county on Election Day and during early voting
- Confined in jail
The Texas election code defines disability as a “sickness or physical condition” that prevents a voter from appearing in person without the risk of “injuring the voter’s health.” The Texas Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that a lack of immunity to the new coronavirus does not qualify a voter to apply for a mail-in ballot.
The League of Women Voters suggests these tips for requesting an absentee ballot:
- If you check "Disabled" - DO NOT WRITE IN YOUR DISABILITY.
- Avoid any confusion by election officials and sign both your application and ballot in the same way.
- Have a ballot mailed to the address where you actually are.
- Include your contact information in case there is a problem with your application.
- Mark the annual box for voters 65 years of age or older and voters with a disability.
Some key dates for requesting an absentee ballot and voting by mail:
- Oct. 5 is the last day to register to vote.
- Oct. 13 is the first day of early voting in-person.
- Oct. 23 is the last day to submit an application to vote by mail.
- Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. is the deadline to receive an absentee ballot, if not postmarked
- Nov. 4 at 5 p.m. is the deadline to receive an absentee ballot postmarked Nov. 3
Some confusion is also surrounding whether Texas will allow absentee ballots to be dropped off at polling locations. Texas does not allow drop off ballots at polling locations. The Texas election code does not allow counties to implement drop boxes for mail-in ballots.
Those looking to vote by mail without the mail being involved can head to their county's elections office to hand-deliver their ballots instead of mailing them. Voters will not, however, be allowed to hand-deliver a ballot to a polling location. It must be the election office.
Ballots brought to the office will be accepted up until 7 p.m. on Election Day, which is November 3. Ballots must be brought to the office by the voter with one of the state’s accepted forms of photo ID. The voter will then sign off on their submission.
If someone who had planned to vote by mail now wishes to vote in person, though, they can simply bring their empty ballot to a polling place, surrender it, and then cast a new ballot.
A final option for voters that are ill or disabled is to vote curbside. Curbside voting is available to voters who are sick or are physically unable to enter the polling place. Curbside voting is allowed from October 13-30 (early voting) and on November 3. Voters will go to their polling location and request an election officer bring a ballot to their car for curbside voting. For more information on curbside voting, or voting with a disability, see Vote Texas information in this link.