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Alternative Voting Options

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What other ways can I vote besides going to the polling place on Election Day? In some cases, you can (1) vote by mail, (2) vote early in person, or (3) vote from your car through curbside voting.

Vote by Mail

What is vote by mail?

Vote by mail means that you can get a ballot mailed to you, mark it, and mail it in to be counted.

Who is eligible to vote by mail?

Anyone who is a registered voter and who is:

  • Going to be away from your county on Election Day and during early voting;
  • Sick or has a disability;
  • 65 years of age or older on Election Day;
  • Confined in jail but is still eligible to vote; or
  • Expected to give birth within three weeks before or after Election Day.

How do I obtain a vote by mail ballot?

  • Send in a vote by mail application to your county’s early voting clerk. To get the name and address of the early voting clerk, you can contact the Secretary of State’s office at 1-800-252-8683.
  • You can send in a vote by mail application by mail, delivery service, or in some cases, by fax (if your county voting clerk’s office has a fax machine and if you are submitting your application from outside the county).
  • Also, if you are voting early because you will be gone on Election Day, you can apply in person at the county election official’s office to get a vote by mail ballot. You must do this in person, and before the first day of early voting (usually the 17th day before the election).

How do I get a vote by mail application?

Get an official application from the Early Voting Clerk in your county, or from the Secretary of State’s office. You can also call those offices and have an application mailed to you. In order to request ballots by mail for all county elections in the calendar year, you may request a single application, called an Application for Ballot By Mail (ABBM). The same dates of submission apply to this application. You can also download a PDF of the ABBM form on the Secretary of State’s Application for a Ballot by Mail webpage.

Do I need to use the official application form?

No. You can send in a letter asking for a vote by mail ballot, as long as the letter is in writing, and includes the information listed below.

  • Your signature (or a witness’ signature if you cannot sign)
  • Your name
  • The address where you are registered to vote
  • The address where you want the ballot mailed to (see below)
  • The identification number on your Texas Identification card, driver’s license, Election Identification Certificate. If you don’t have any of those forms of ID, you may use the last four digits of your social security number.
  • The election date you want the ballot for
  • Which election you want the ballot for (and if it is a primary election, you must state the political party’s primary in which you wish to vote)
  • The reason why you are eligible to vote early by mail

Can I have the ballot mailed to a different address than my home address?

Maybe. The general rule is that a ballot must be mailed to the address where you are registered to vote. However, if you say in your application that you are going to be away from your county on Election Day, you can ask that it be mailed to another address. Also, if you are age 65 or older, or have a physical disability, you can have your ballot mailed to a hospital, nursing home, long-term care facility, retirement center, or relative, but you must check the blank on the application form that says which address you are providing.

Can I ask someone to help me fill out the application?

Yes. If you need help filling out the form or mailing it, ask someone you trust. If someone helps you fill out the application, you must write that person’s name and address next to your signature on the application. The person helping you must also sign the application.

When do I apply for a vote by mail ballot?

You may submit your application to the Early Voting Clerk no earlier than 60 days before Election Day and no later than eleven (11) days before Election Day. If the eleventh (11th) day before Election Day is on a weekend, the last day to submit an application is the Friday before that.

What if my ballot doesn’t come?

If you are registered to vote and do not receive a ballot, call your county elections office. They will check that your voter registration is current. If it is, they will mail you a replacement ballot.

What is the deadline to return a vote by mail ballot?

The Early Voting Clerk must receive your marked ballot by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Exception: If you are mailing your ballot from outside the United States, the Early Voting Clerk must receive your ballot by the 5th day after Election Day, and you must mail it no later than 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.

How do I know if my ballot is received?

You may check the status of your ballot through the Secretary of State’s Ballot by Mail Tracker. This tool records when the ballot/carrier envelope is sent to the voter, received by the voting clerk, and if that ballot was accepted or rejected. Each envelope will have an assigned serial number and bar code or tracking number.

When will election results be known?

Ballot counting will not begin until Election Day.

Vote Early In-Person

Who is eligible to vote early in person?

Any registered voter can vote early in person, for any reason.

When is the early voting period?

You may vote during the early voting period which begins 17 days before Election Day and ends 4 days before Election Day.

Where can I vote early?

During the early voting period, you can vote at any early voting site that is convenient to you within your county. You don’t have to vote in your precinct.

How do I find out where the early voting polling places are located?

  • Call your county’s Early Voting Clerk.
  • You can get the telephone number by looking in the government section of your telephone directory or by calling directory assistance.
  • You can also call the Secretary of State’s office at 1-800-252-8683 or visit their Election Duties webpage for contact information for your county’s Elections Administrator.

Curbside Voting

How does curbside voting work?

If you are physically unable to enter the polling place, you can ask that an election officer bring a ballot to your car at the curbside, or to you at the entrance of the polling place. After you mark the ballot, give it to the election officer who will put it in the ballot box. Or, at your request, a companion may hand you a ballot and deposit it for you.

Should I call ahead?

It is a good idea to call ahead if you plan to go alone so the election official will be expecting you. If you can’t drive, think about having a friend or relative drive you to the polling station. Call your County Election Official and let them know you would like to vote early and your precinct number. The county official will notify the poll workers. You can find contact information for your County Election Official by calling the Secretary of State’s office at 1-800-252-8683 or by visiting their Election Duties webpage.

Who is eligible for curbside voting?

Any voter who:

  • has a disability;
  • is 65 or older;
  • cannot enter the polling place in which they are registered to vote; or
  • is unable to stand in line to vote.

Exactly where do I vote from?

You can vote outside your polling place in the closest available parking area from the car you rode to the polling place in.

When can I vote curbside?

It is available during early voting and on Election Day at every polling place.

Other Important Information

  • 60 days before Election Day – first day to send in your application to vote by mail
  • 17 days before Election Day – first day to vote early in person
  • 11 days before Election Day – last day to send in your application for a vote by mail ballot
  • 4 days before Election Day – last day to vote early in person
  • Election Day – 7 p.m. is the deadline for vote by mail ballots to be received, or if mailed from outside the U.S., 7 p.m. is the deadline to mail them.
  • Texas law requires all early and Election Day polling locations to be physically accessible to voters with disabilities.
  • For the name phone number, fax number or address of the Early Voting Clerk in your county, visit the Secretary of State’s Election Duties webpage.
  • To get a vote-by-mail application, visit the Secretary of State’s Application for a Ballot by Mail webpage.

For additional information, contact:
Secretary of State Elections Division
P.O. Box 12060
Austin, Texas 78711-2060
512-463-5650 or 800-252-VOTE (8683)
Fax: 512-475-2811; TTY: 7-1-1
Texas Secretary of State website

If you need assistance in registering to vote, if you have questions regarding voting, or if you feel that any of your voting rights have been violated, please contact Disability Rights Texas at 1-888-796-VOTE (8683) or e-mail vote@drtx.org.

 

Last updated: February 1, 2022
Date created: March 26, 2020
Publication Code: HA02


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Disclaimer: Disability Rights Texas strives to update its materials on an annual basis, and this handout is based upon the law at the time it was written. The law changes frequently and is subject to various interpretations by different courts. Future changes in the law may make some information in this handout inaccurate.

The handout is not intended to and does not replace an attorney’s advice or assistance based on your particular situation.


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