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.
Am I eligible to vote by mail?
The Texas Secretary of State says you must meet one of the following criteria to be eligible for a mail-in ballot:
- you are 65 years or older;
- you are disabled;
- you will be out of the county on Election Day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance; or
- you are confined in jail, but otherwise eligible.
If you meet one of these conditions, you can apply for a mail-in ballot.
How do I apply for a mail-in ballot?
Print this application, fill it out completely and mail, email or fax it to your county elections administrator.
You can also request that an application be mailed to you through the Texas Secretary of State's website here.
If someone helps you fill it out, sign it or mail it, that person must complete Section 11, which requires information and a signature about that person.
Where do I send the application?
You can send the application by email, fax or mail to your county election administrator.
In Travis County, that's the county clerk, Dana DeBeauvoir:
P.O. Box 149325
Austin, Texas 78714-9325
You can also fax it to Travis County at (512) 854-3969.
Or, you can email a scanned copy of the application to eBBM@traviscountytx.gov.
If you live in another county, you can find the address, fax number and email address to send your application here.
IMPORTANT: If you fax or email your application, you MUST also mail in the original copy of the application — and it MUST be received by the county by the fourth business day after you emailed or faxed it.
What’s the deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot?
You must apply for a mail-in ballot by the 11th day before an election — in the case of the Nov. 3 election, the deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is Oct. 23. The county must receive your application by this date.
IMPORTANT: Don't wait until the last minute. If you know you want to vote by mail, apply as soon as you can to avoid possible delays with the U.S. Postal Service.
So, you’ve applied for a mail-in ballot. Congratulations! It’s not the easiest thing in the world. Now, you wait. If you submit an application now, you should get your ballot in a few weeks. It varies by county, though, so you may receive your ballot closer to Election Day elsewhere.
Some counties have ways to check the status of your application and/or ballot online. Otherwise, you can call your county elections administrator to see if they've received your application or your ballot.
OK, now the good part.
Now, you vote! Make your selections on the ballot and return it to your county elections office.
It MUST be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day (Nov. 3) if it’s not postmarked. If it is postmarked on or before Election Day, it must be received by 5 p.m. on the day after the election.
Voters who don't want to mail completed ballots back can drop them off at their local election administrator's office during early voting and on Election Day.
Travis County set up four drive-thru locations for voters to hand deliver their mail-in ballots.
- 5501 Airport Blvd, Austin — Tax Office drive-thru payment lanes
- Travis County 700 Lavaca Parking Garage, Austin — Lavaca entrance
- Travis County 700 Lavaca Parking Garage, Austin — Guadalupe entrance
- Travis County 1010 Lavaca Parking Lot, Austin — Enter from W. 11th St. between Guadalupe and Lavaca
But Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order Oct. 1 saying counties would be limited to only one drop-off site. Travis County said it plans to challenge the order. For now, only the Airport Boulevard site is open.
There are also some requirements: You can deliver only your own ballot, and you will be asked to show ID and to sign a signature roster.
Voters can hand-deliver their mail-in ballots during the following hours:
- Thursday, Oct. 1 – Monday, Oct. 12: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
- Tuesday, Oct. 13 – Sunday, Nov. 1: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday
- Monday, Nov. 2: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Tuesday, Nov. 3: 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
IMPORTANT: Again, DON'T DELAY. If you are mailing your ballot, give it extra time to get to the elections office.
A few notes ...
We’ll have to see how the fights in the courts play out before we know who, if anyone else, will be eligible to vote by mail.
Also: There are some special circumstances if you’re in the military or overseas on Election Day. You can find those special rules here.
If you have a specific question or a unique situation, give the Secretary of State’s Elections division a call at 1-800-252-8683.
This post has been updated.