Helpful Hints on Voting Early by Mail
Voting by mail in Texas has been available to elderly voters and voters with physical disabilities for decades. Remember, however, that many of the legal safeguards designed to protect voters and their ballots are impossible to enforce in the privacy of the voter’s home. Here are a few tips that may prove helpful.
- Call your local or county office holding the election or the Secretary of State’s office and request that an application to vote by mail be sent to you, or download the application here. (PDF)
- If you need help filling out the form or mailing it, ask someone you trust to help you. Your helper’s name and address must be written next to your signature and they must sign the application.
- Address your application to the Early Voting Clerk. Applications mailed to an address other than the Early Voting Clerk may be rejected.
- Send your application for a ballot by mail as early as 60 days before an election. This will give you plenty of time to receive your ballot, mark it, and mail it back to the Early Voting Clerk. All applications to vote by mail must be received by the early voting clerk before the close of regular business or 12 noon, whichever is later. Applications to vote by mail must be submitted by mail, common or contract carrier, or fax (if a fax machine is available in the office of the early voting clerk).
- If you are voting by mail because you are disabled or are 65 years of age or older, you may use a single application to request ballots by mail for all county elections in the calendar year. While you can submit this “annual” application anytime during the calendar year, it must be received at least 9 days before the first election in which you seek to request a ballot by mail.
- Generally, a ballot must be mailed to the address where you are registered to vote. However, if you are 65 or older or have a physical disability, you may have your ballot sent to a hospital, nursing home or long-term care facility, retirement center, or relative, but you must check the blank on the form indicating which address you are providing. If your reason for voting by mail is absence from the county, the ballot must be mailed to an address outside the county.
- If you need help reading, marking, or mailing the actual ballot, ask a trusted relative or friend for help. It’s not uncommon for someone from a political organization to offer to help with your ballot soon after you’ve received it. We recommend you decline this kind of help for several reasons. If you allow your ballot to be mailed by someone you don’t know, it might not be mailed at all. If it’s delivered to the elections office by a common or contract carrier from the address of a candidate or a campaign’s headquarters, your ballot will be rejected.
- Finally, if someone helps you with your mail ballot, you must put your helper’s name and address on the carrier envelope, which is the one used to return your ballot to the early voting clerk. Your helper must also sign the carrier envelope.
Should a situation arise regarding any aspect of voting and you don’t know what to do, please call our office. Our legal staff is available toll-free at 1.800.252.8683 to answer questions and advise you on your rights as a voter.
Early Voting Timeline
Tuesday, September 1, 2015 — first day to submit an early voting by mail application for the November 3, 2015 election date
January 1, 2016 for election(s) held in 2016*
*First day to file does not move because of New Year’s Day holiday. An “Annual ABBM” or FPCA for a January or February 2016 election may be filed earlier, but not earlier than the 60th day before the date of the January or February election.
- 17 days before Election Day (12 days for May election) — early voting in person begins
- 9 days before Election Day — last day to submit an application for ballot by mail
- 4 days before Election Day — early voting in person ends