Harris County residents have returned about 163,000 mail-in ballots, according to the Texas Secretary of State's Office website, which tracks early voting totals.
This compares to the 1.27 million Harris County voters who have voted so far in total, as of Oct. 28, according to the secretary of state's office. This is a little over 51% of the total registered voters in the county, at 2.48 million.
Mail-in ballots give voters the opportunity to cast ballots through a variety of ways, including the United States Postal Service, an in-person drop-off of the completed ballot by the voter at select locations on Election Day, or through a common or contract carrier, according to the Harris County Clerk’s website.
To be eligible, a voter must be age 65 or older, be sick or disabled, be out of the county on Election Day and during period for early voting by personal appearance, or be confined in jail but otherwise eligible.
According to Elizabeth Lewis, an administrator for the Harris County Clerk’s Communications and Voter Outreach Office, the deadline to apply to vote by mail was Oct. 23, but for those who applied in time and were approved, so long as ballots mailed to the Harris County Clerk’s Office were postmarked by Election Day, the office will still receive them Nov. 4, after which they will be processed and counted after Election Day.
It should be noted that mail-in ballots can be rejected, Lewis wrote.
“A ballot can be rejected for a couple of reasons. The most prevalent is that the signature does not match what is on file,” Lewis wrote. “The voter is contacted and can cure their ballot.”
Determining whether a ballot is accepted or not comes ahead of Election Day, when received ballots are scanned and imaged unopened and then stored securely. Once the ballot board convenes, signatures are then verified by a bipartisan committee that goes through each ballot and then verifies it to be stored until the night of the election, according to Lewis.
No ballots are counted until after the polls close on Election Day, Lewis said.
“The first results we are able to put out at 7 p.m. are early voting totals and the mail ballots that have been processed,” Lewis said. “Remaining results from Election Day will be throughout the evening.”