Mail-in ballots allow residents to vote through the United States Postal Service without having to show up in person to the polls, whether for early voting or Election Day. In Texas, voting by mail is restricted to those age 65 and older, those who are disabled, those who are outside the county throughout the voting period or those who are in jail but otherwise eligible to vote.
In counties with over 100,000 residents, mail-in ballots are processed by the ballot board 12 days prior to Election Day, Oldham said. In counties with a population of under 100,000, the board must wait until early voting closes. Ballots can be scanned during the early voting period but not tabulated, and results can be released only after the polls close on Election Day.
Residents must apply, with a signature, to receive a mail-in ballot. If approved, they then receive a ballot, which they must return by mail by Election Day. Ballots received Nov. 4 will still be counted so long as they are postmarked by no later than Nov. 3.
Mail-in ballots will be rejected if the signature on the carrier envelope differs from the one on the ballot application, if there is more than one ballot in the carrier envelope or if the ballot is delivered late, Oldham said.
Voters are contacted when possible to try to remedy errors, he added.
FBC expects to post early voting results immediately after 7 p.m. Nov. 3, Oldham said. This generally represents about 70% of the ballots that will be cast.
By law, all mail-in ballots received by the time polls close on Election Day are to be counted that day, Oldham said.
Under Texas law, if a ballot is postmarked on or before Election Day and arrives the day after, it can be counted. If it arrives later, or has no postmark, it will not be counted, Oldham said. The exception is for military and U.S. citizens residing overseas, who can return ballots until the Monday following the election.