Vote by Mail

A voter enters a polling place at the North Austin YMCA on March 3, 2020.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Some Travis County voters say they are missing races on their mail-in ballot for the July 14 primary runoff elections. The Travis County Clerk's Office says that's because they didn't read their mail-in ballot application closely.

A line of voters waits to cast ballots on Election Day.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

Early voting for Texas’ primary runoff begins Monday ahead of the July 14 election.

Local officials are urging voters to take extra precautions during in-person voting as COVID-19 cases have been rising in the state.

Shelby Knowles / The Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an initial bid by state Democrats to expand voting by mail to all Texas voters during the coronavirus pandemic.

A mail carrier wears a mask and gloves while delivering mail in March.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

Travis County election officials are seeing record numbers of vote-by-mail applications ahead of the July 14 primary runoff.

According to the Travis County Elections Division, the office has received more than 28,000 applications so far.

President Trump has made it clear that he does not support allowing all registered voters access to mail ballots this fall, even during a pandemic. But he keeps changing his story about why he's opposed.

An application to vote-by-mail in Texas.
Trey Shaar / KUT

The Texas Democratic Party filed applications with the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday asking justices to rule on whether the state should be forced to open up its vote-by-mail program during the coronavirus pandemic.

Voters wait in line to cast ballots at the ACC Highland campus on March 3.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is not letting Texas open its ballot-by-mail program during the coronavirus pandemic, while legal challenges move through the federal and state court system.

Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Three of Texas' top Republican leaders are vigorously fighting efforts to expand mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, arguing it will lead to increased voter fraud, yet all three have themselves cast absentee ballots at least once in past elections.

In an effort to keep voters safe, states of all political complexions are finding ways to expand access to mail-in ballots as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Then there's Texas.

The state has some of the most restrictive laws limiting vote by mail in the country. Under Texas law, the program is open only to people who are 65 or older, people who will be out of the county during the election, people who are in jail and not convicted, and people who are disabled.

Julia Reihs / KUT

 

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that the absence of immunity to COVID-19 does not qualify a voter to use the disability category to request a mail-in ballot during the coronavirus pandemic. The court also says it will not make election officials investigate – or deny – applications to vote by mail.

Confused by the back and forth over mail-in ballots in Texas? OK, let's sort some of that out.

The Texas Supreme Court
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a lack of immunity to the new coronavirus does not qualify a voter to apply for a mail-in ballot.

Residential mailboxes
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that "lack of immunity" to the coronavirus is not a disability under state law that would qualify someone for a mail-in ballot. In the same ruling, the court acknowledged that county election clerks have no duty to question or investigate the disability of voters who claim it.

But if you’re curious about how you would even go about voting by mail (or if you’re eligible), here’s how it works.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

For years, those over 65 years of age were among the few voters in Texas who could legally ask for a mail-in ballot. Seniors along with disabled Texas voters, are among the limited categories allowed to cast a ballot by mail. 

And if this were any other election year, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir would see about 1,000 requests for mail-in-ballots. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Voters who don't want to risk exposure to the coronavirus can use mail-in ballots during upcoming elections as a legal battle moves through the courts, a Texas appeals court ruled Thursday.

Eddie Gaspar / The Texas Tribune

A coalition of voters and civil rights groups opened a new front Monday in the legal wars over mail-in voting in Texas during the new coronavirus pandemic.

Voters wait in line to cast ballots at the ACC Highland campus on March 3.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A Travis County judge issued an order Friday that essentially opens up Texas’ strict ballot-by-mail program to all voters during the coronavirus pandemic.

But local election officials say voters didn't have to wait for the courts to weigh-in.

Election signs at the corner of Manor and Airport.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Texas Secretary of State’s office sent local election officials an advisory Thursday that was meant to give them guidance on how to handle elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.