Voting by Mail in Texas
WHO MAY VOTE BY MAIL?
Only specific reasons entitle a registered voter to vote early by mail. 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.
APPLYING TO VOTE BY MAIL
If one of these four reasons applies to you (and you are eligible 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.
RETURNING A MAIL BALLOT BY HAND
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.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY BALLOT WAS RECEIVED?
To track the status of your vote-by-mail application and mail ballot, go to the Dallas County mail tracker.
Collin County mail ballot and early voting reports will be available by clicking “Ballot by Mail, Early Voting, and Election Day Rosters” on the Elections Department website.
WILL MY MAIL BALLOT BE REJECTED?
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.
MAIL-IN BALLOT CONCERNS
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.
WHAT IF I CANNOT VOTE IN PERSON DUE TO AN EMERGENCY?
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: