Texas mail-in ballot application process changes for 2018, elections official says

During its 2017 regular session, the Texas Legislature revised rules associated with applying to vote via mail-in ballot, according to a  press release from John Oldham, Fort Bend County elections administrator.

Eligible voters may still apply for a ballot using mail, fax or email, but those submitting their application by fax or email must mail in a copy of their application. Mailed copies must be received within four days of submitting the emailed or faxed copies.

Disabled voters, voters age 65 and older and those expecting to be out of their county of residence during voting time frames may apply for a mail-in ballot. Those confined in jail but not convicted of a felony may also vote by mail, according to the Texas Secretary of State’s website.  

Disabled and elderly voters’ applications are valid for the calendar year and will need to be submitted each year they intend to vote by mail. Absentee ballot applications must be submitted separately for each voting period that a voter will be out of his or her county of residence, according to ballot instructions on county clerk websites for Harris and Fort Bend counties.

Counties began accepting mail-in and absentee ballot applications under the new requirements Jan. 1.

State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, said the law was passed in order to protect the integrity of the mail-in voting process and elections in general.

“I think it’s that—first and foremost—it’s the validity of the signature. That is really what I believe that SB 5 in the first called session of the 85th Legislature was meant to address,” Zerwas said.

He added that by taking precautions to protect the integrity of the process now, it will protect that voting method for those who need it in the future.

“It had just come to light that an area that was subject to a significant amount of fraud was the mail-in ballot,” Zerwas said. “This became something we could rally around to ensure that the checks and balances were in place to prevent any fraudulent activity in that area.”

More information on the mail-in ballot process and downloadable mail-in ballot forms can be found at: https://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/reqabbm.shtml


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