Travis County voters nervous about delays with the post office will be able to hand-deliver mail-in ballots or drop them off at drive-thru sites this fall, County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said Tuesday.
“If they want to vote by mail but now they’re worried, at least they have a drive-thru option,” she told county commissioners.
DeBeauvoir said reported issues at the post office have put local election officials “in a jam” and that they're creating more options for people planning to vote by mail in the upcoming election.
She said she anticipates about 100,000 people in Travis County will vote by mail. There are about 833,000 eligible voters in the county, she said, and about 123,000 of those voters are over 65, which means they qualify for a mail-in ballot under Texas’ limited program.
During the pandemic, many states are expanding their vote-by-mail programs. Republican leaders in Texas, however, have remained staunchly opposed. Instead, Gov. Greg Abbott has extended the early voting period to give voters more time to cast ballots in person.
Other states also allow election officials to set up “drop boxes” for voters to hand-deliver ballots. Those are illegal in Texas, however; voters must hand their ballots directly to an official.
“Voters will still have to show up in person with only their own ballot,” DeBeauvoir said. “They can’t deliver anybody else’s for them. We want to be sure that voters understand that they’ll need to produce ID and they will have to sign a signature roster.”
DeBeauvoir said there will be a walk-up site to hand-deliver ballots, as well as three drive-thru locations downtown. She said there should be about 10 lanes to drop off ballots.
"We think we can have enough capacity to handle the number of voters we feel like are going to take advantage of this, because of what happened to the post office,” she said.
DeBeauvoir said she plans to have these sites up and running around Oct. 1. She said mail-in ballots will likely start going out the last week of September.
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