Voting by Mail in Texas



Only specific reasons entitle a registered voter to vote early by mail (no longer called absentee voting). You may request a ballot by mail if you:

  • are 65 years or older;

  • are sick or disabled*;

  • are out of the county on election day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance; or

  • are confined in jail, but otherwise eligible.


*The Election Code defines “disability” to include “a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter's health.” (Sec. 82.002).  If a voter believes they meet this definition, they can submit an application for ballot by mail.  – Texas Secretary of State.



If one of these four reasons applies to you (and you are not ineligible to register to vote), you can request an Application for Ballot by Mail (ABBM) from the Early Voting Clerk in your county, or you can print an ABBM directly from the Texas Secretary of State's office in English (PDF) or Spanish (PDF).


If you are eligible to vote by mail, you must re-apply each year beginning on January 1st. If you are 65 years of age or older OR you have a disability, you may request to receive ballots for all elections and runoffs held that year. If you do not apply at the beginning of the year, be sure to apply prior to the deadline to request an ABBM form prior to the first election you want to vote in that year. Read the instructions carefully, fill out the application, and return it to your county Early Voting Clerk.


Upon receiving the application, the Early Voting clerk will determine whether you are eligible to vote by mail. If you are and you submitted your application early enough, you should receive your ballot about 30 days before the election. If you applied closer to the election date, you should receive your ballot about 10 days after the clerk verifies your application.


Once you've received your ballot, fill it out and return it to your county Early Voting Clerk in time to arrive on or before Election Day. Make sure you sign the carrier envelope containing your completed ballot, using the same signature you used on your Application for Ballot by Mail (ABBM).  If the signatures do not match, your vote may not be counted.

For detailed information and a video about the application to vote by mail, completing your mail ballot, and returning your mail ballot, go to the “Vote by Mail” page hosted by the League of Women Voters of Texas.

REMEMBER: Mail your ballot in early enough to arrive in the office of the early voting clerk by Election Day, or by 5:00 p.m. the day after Election Day if postmarked by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, or your vote will not be counted.



Instead of using the United States Postal Service or a common carrier, you may return your ballot by mail directly to the county Elections Department, (per the Texas Secretary of State), but you must follow some rules:

  • Only the voter can hand-deliver their own ballot to the county Elections office, must provide acceptable ID, and must sign a roster.

  • The voter must put the marked ballot inside the Carrier Envelope and sign the Carrier Envelope.

  • If the voter refuses to present acceptable ID and insists on leaving the ballot, the ballot will be treated as improperly delivered and will NOT be sent to the early voting ballot board for counting.

  • If someone other than the voter attempts to drop off the ballot, the ballot will be treated as improperly delivered and will NOT be sent to the Early Voting ballot board for counting.

  • A voter may only deliver their ballot by mail to the Elections Department during official hours the department is open.

  • For more detailed information, go to the "Application for a Ballot by Mail FAQ" page maintained by the Dallas County Election Administrator.  




Dallas County

The Dallas County Elections Department website has a page with Early Voting reports for the November 3 election.  The easiest way to search is by your precinct number (which you will find on your voter registration card, on this map, or by entering your information in the Precinct Lookup tool on the Dallas County Elections Department website).


Once you know your precinct number, follow these steps:

  1. Scroll down the page of Early Voting reports to the section titled “Download cumulative lists by commissioners court districts (zipped files).” 

  2. Select the group with your precinct number, and you will download a zipped Excel file with all the information on Early Votes cast by persons in your precinct (including mail ballots returned).

  3. Unzip the file and open it in Excel.  

  4. Sort the file:​

    1. On the Data tab, select Sort.

    2. Select the “Voter Name” column (column “D”).

  5. Scroll down alphabetically to your last name.  It should show the date you requested, mailed, and returned your mail-in ballot.


Collin County

The Collin County Elections Department website has a page with Early Voting reports for the November 3 election.


To find your mail-in ballot, follow these steps:

  1. Scroll down to the section titled “Roster - Early Voting by Mail.” 

  2. Click on the link for “Absentee Returns” to open the Excel file.  If you are asked to enter your credentials, click “Cancel.” 

  3. Sort the file:

    1. Click on “Enable editing” at the top.

    2. On the Data tab, select Sort.

    3. Select the LASTNAME column.

  4. Scroll down alphabetically to your last name.  It should show the date you requested, mailed, and returned (RETURNDATE column) your mail-in ballot.



On October 19th, a federal appeals court ruled that counties in Texas will not be required to inform voters prior to the November 3 election that their signature cannot be verified.  This means that voters’ ballots may be rejected without their knowledge and without giving them the opportunity to correct the problem.


According to an article in the Texas Standard, “Before mail-in ballots are counted, a committee of local election officials reviews them to ensure that a voter’s endorsement on the flap of a ballot envelope matches the signature that voter used on their application to vote by mail. They can also compare it to signatures on file with the county clerk or voter registrar that were made within the last six years.


“The state election code does not establish any standards for signature review, which is conducted by local election officials who seldom have training in signature verification.


“Voters must be notified within 10 days after the election that their ballot was rejected, but state election law does not require affording them an opportunity to challenge the rejection, the appeals court ruling noted.”


Counties may still voluntarily inform voters of a signature mismatch and give them an opportunity to correct it prior to the election.


  • If you requested a mail-in ballot but did not receive it, go to an Election Day Vote Center in your county.  You will be able to cast a provisional ballot, which WILL COUNT once election officials determine that they did not receive a mail-in ballot from you.

  • If you received a mail-in ballot, but would rather vote in person, go to an Election Day Vote Center in your county.  You can surrender your mail-in ballot and vote a regular ballot, which WILL COUNT.



Voters who:

  • become ill after the deadline to request a mail-in ballot; or

  • will be out of town due to a death in the family

may still vote by requesting an application for an emergency absentee ballot.  Voters must meet the requirements listed on the application.  Voters who become ill must provide certification from a doctor.


Application for Emergency Ballot: 



Several lawsuits have been brought challenging the interpretation of the Texas statute that limits the right to vote by mail, including federal cases that have not yet been resolved.


Until the federal courts rule on who can vote by mail, a May 27, 2020 Texas Supreme Court decision is in effect.


In its decision, the court said that although "a lack of immunity to COVID-19 is not itself a 'physical condition' that renders a voter eligible to vote by mail," "a voter can take into consideration aspects of his health and his health history that are physical conditions in deciding whether, under the circumstances, to apply to vote by mail because of disability."




The two questions at issue in the recent lawsuits concerning Texans' right to vote by mail are:

  • whether lack of immunity to COVID-19 falls within the definition of "disability" under Texas statues; and

  • whether the Texas statute on voting by mail discriminates against voters under the age of 65 under the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Texas Election Code (Section 82.02) defines disability as "a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter's health [emphasis added]."


Plaintiffs in the lawsuits argue that in-person voting by persons who are not immune to COVID-19 is likely to injure the voter's health, and that therefore, persons who are at risk should be permitted to vote by mail under the definition of disability in the Texas statute.


While the Texas Supreme Court ruled On May 27, 2020, that a voter cannot vote by mail merely because they lack immunity to COVID-19, the Court said a voter can take into account their health history in deciding whether they have a physical condition that presents a likelihood that they will injure their health by voting in person. The Court made clear that voters must ultimately make this determination for themselves. It further clarified that county election officials do not investigate the reason behind why a voter marks the disability box.


Despite the qualifications noted by the court, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has since said, "Any voter who checks disability on a mail-in ballot application based on a fear of COVID-19, would be violating Texas law and anyone who causes a voter to do so would also be in violation of the law."


Another lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Texas election statute is working its way through the federal courts, but may not be resolved before the November election.


The League of Women Voters

of Richardson


300 North Coit Road, Suite 125

Richardson, TX  75080


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The League of Women Voters of Richardson, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.  This website is paid for with donations we receive from community residents and businesses.  The League of Women Voters never supports or opposes candidates or political parties.  Privacy Policy and Disclaimer

© Copyright 2021 League of Women Voters of Richardson, Texas.  All rights reserved. 03/01/2021 13:16 CST