Voting by Mail in the November 8th Election

October 25, 2022

Feature


Voting by mail is an option available to certain qualified voters in Texas. The law allows voting by mail if a voter has a sickness or physical condition that prevents them from appearing at the polls on Election Day. Others who may vote by mail include people aged 65 or over, people who expect to be absent from their county during the voting period, certain pregnant voters, certain jailed voters, and a few other limited categories. Read on for more details!

Basic Steps

Procedures for early voting by mail are in the Texas Election Code Chapters 81 through 87. To vote by mail, a voter must take the following steps: 

  1. Complete an application for a ballot by mail.
  2. Return it to your county's Early Voting Clerk by Friday, October 28th.
  3. Receive your ballot in the mail.
  4. Complete and return the ballot to the Early Voting Clerk by Election Day on November 8th.

Be sure to check the Texas Secretary of State's website for more information on voting by mail. You can also reach out to your county election office for assistance.

Eligibility

Chapter 82 of the Texas Election Code sets out eligibility requirements for early voting in Texas, including voting by mail. 

Voting by mail is open to qualified voters who fall into one of the following categories: 

Voter Category Election Code  Restrictions
Absent voters Section 82.001 Must expect to be absent from the county they registered in during the early voting period and on Election Day.
Voters with an illness or disability Section 82.002

The condition must "prevent the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter's health."

A lack of transportation or an illness or condition that does not prevent the voter from voting in person safely does not qualify under this section.

Pregnant voters Section 82.002 Must expect to give birth within 3 weeks before or after Election Day. 
Voters over 65  Section 82.003 Must be at least 65 years old on Election Day.
Jailed voters Section 82.004

Must be jailed under one of the following conditions: 

  • serving a misdemeanor sentence that ends on or after Election Day;
  • pending trial after denial of bail;
  • without bail pending an appeal of a felony conviction;
  • pending trial or appeal on a bailable offense for which release on bail before Election Day is unlikely.
Voters in an address confidentiality program Section 82.007 Must be participating in the Attorney General's address confidentiality program under Subchapter B, Chapter 58, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
Voters under involuntary civil commitment Section 82.008

Must be civilly committed as a sexually violent predator under Chapter 841, Texas Health and Safety Code.

Must be ordered as a condition of civil commitment to reside in a facility operated by or under contract with the Texas Civil Commitment Office.

Apply For a Ballot By Mail

If you're qualified and wish to vote by mail, you must complete an application for a ballot by mail and return it to your county's Early Voting Clerk by the end of the day on Friday, October 28th, 2022. This means the application must be received by the Early Voting Clerk on this date, not postmarked by this date.

Voters can download the application from the Secretary of State (SOS)'s website, request a copy via mail from the SOS's office, or get one from their county's Early Voting Clerk. Votes must provide at least one of these numbers on their application: 

  • Texas Driver’s License Number
  • Texas Personal Identification Number
  • Election Identification Certificate Number issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety

The Early Voting Clerk will use these numbers to match the application with the voter's registration record. If the voter has never received any of these identification numbers, they must indicate this on their application for a mail-in ballot. 

The next step is to submit the application. You have several options here:

  • drop it off in person;
  • send it through regular mail;
  • use a commercial mail service like FedEx or UPS;
  • send it by e-mail or fax. If you choose this option, you also need to send the original completed application to the clerk. The clerk must receive the original application within 4 business days of receiving the electronic version.

Once received, the clerk will review your application and determine if you are eligible to vote by mail. Voters whose applications are approved will then have their official ballot mailed to them. If the voter's application is rejected, the clerk will return the rejected application with written notice of the reason for the rejection. 

Return Your Ballot

Once you've received your official ballot, fill it out according to the instructions on the ballot envelope. Place the ballot in the ballot envelope, and place the ballot envelope in the carrier envelope. Be sure to fill out the requested information on the carrier envelope before signing and sealing it. 

Return your sealed ballot to the Early Voting Clerk by mail, through a mail service like FedEx or UPS, or in person. The Early Voting Clerk must receive your ballot by the following time: 

  • 7:00 p.m. on Election Day
  • by 5:00 p.m. the first business day after Election Day if your postmarked ballot was mailed within the United States, or
  • by the 5th day after Election Day if you mailed your ballot from outside of the United States.

You also have the option to track your mailed ballot's status through the Secretary of State's Ballot by Mail Tracker

Be sure to check out our research guide to Voting in Texas! We cover voting by mail on the Absentee & Early Voting page. If you have a question about voting by mail, reach out to your county's election office or the Texas Secretary of State's office directly. We're also happy to answer any questions you may have about Texas laws on voting by mail, so reach out to us!


SLL Celebrates 50 Years in the Federal Depository Library Program

In-Person Voting in the November 8th Election