7 things to know about mail-in voting in Texas

A version of this originally appeared in the Election 2022 newsletter. Subscribe here.

The 2022 primary election is fast approaching in Texas, and with that come questions about voting and mail-in ballots.

It’s no wonder you have questions, as Texas election officials have turned down an unprecedented number of mail-in ballot applications for not complying with a new law.

The main reason for denials does not include your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social security number, so be sure to remember that.

Readers of the Election 2022 newsletter had a lot of questions, and we did our best to answer them. Here are some other helpful tips for navigating Texas primary voting.

Question: When will I receive my ballot for seniors over 65?

Responnse: Unless you have already requested a mail-in ballot this year, you will not automatically receive one. First, you will need to submit an application by February 18. Seniors are automatically eligible for mail-in ballots, but must apply annually. If you receive an absentee ballot for the primary election, you will also receive one for the general election and any municipal elections that year. The application form is here.

On your mail-in ballot application, be sure to check both “Annual Application” boxes and select either the Republican or Democratic primary, as well as the potential runoff for the same party. And don’t forget it takes a 78 cent stamp.

Q: I have my 2021 voter card but I have not received my 2022 card. Can I vote in the primaries and when will I receive my 2022 card? What do I need to do to be able to vote in the primary?

A: Your voter card is not necessary if you are already registered at your current address. Just be sure to bring acceptable identification (like a driver’s license) to the polls with you. A list of acceptable IDs is available here. All registered voters in Texas can participate in the 2022 primary and general elections.

Q: What do you have to do to vote in a primary? Is this the same as an ordinary election?

A: A key difference: To vote in the primaries, you must choose the Democratic or Republican ballot, and then choose the top candidates in that party’s primary races. In Texas, it is not necessary to belong to a party to vote in its primary elections.

Q: I have a voter card that expired in December 2021. I have not received a new card. Should I re-register?

A: If you have not moved, you do not need to register again. Just bring acceptable ID to the polls with you. Or, if you are eligible to vote by mail, complete the form and submit it to your local elections office.

Q: How can my daughter, who is a student, vote if she is registered here?

A: By law, Texas residents who will be out of their home county during voting are eligible for mail-in ballots. To request it, you can download a form here. The deadline for absentee ballot applications is February 18 – that’s when it should be received by your local elections office, not postmarked.

Q: Where can you check that your application by mail has not been rejected?

A: This may vary from county to county, but a good place to start is the state’s absentee ballot tracking system. However, some county election officials don’t update it, so you can also try checking their websites to see if they have their own online trackers. Finally, the best way to clear up any confusion would be to call your local elections office and ask about the status of your mail-in ballot application.

Q: Does a senior have to renew his request each year to vote by mail?

A: Yes. All registered Texans over age 65 can vote by mail without excuse. But they must file a new application for a postal vote each year. Once you are authorized to vote by mail, you will receive absentee ballots for each election of the year without having to reapply. The deadline for mail-in ballot requests is February 18. This is when it should be received by your local election clerk, not postmarked.

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