With just two weeks until the 2022 Texas primary election, many voters are scrambling to figure out how to successfully vote by mail after the passing of Texas' new voting law, Senate Bill 1.
Texas election officials are rejecting an unprecedented number of mail ballot applications and completed ballots because they don't meet the requirements of SB 1.
We put together some helpful information and tips to guide you through voting by mail in Texas for the 2022 Primary Election.
Can I vote early by mail?
You can vote by mail if you are one of the following:
- 65 years of age or older on Election Day;
- Sick or disabled;
- Expecting to give birth within three weeks before or after Election Day;
- Absent from the county of registration during the Early Voting period and on Election Day;
- Civilly committed under Chapter 841 of the Texas Health and Safety Code; or
- Confined in jail, but otherwise eligible
Where do I get an application to vote by mail in Texas?
- Download an application for a mail ballot here;
- The Secretary of State’s office; or
- The Early Voting Clerk in your county
New rules for voting by mail in Texas
SB 1 adds more steps for Texas voters to vote by mail, most notably the ID requirement.
To vote by mail, you must provide one of the following ID numbers on your mail ballot application and ballot:
- Texas Driver’s License, Texas Personal Identification Number or Election Identification Certificate Number issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety; or
- If you don't have one of those, the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number
If you have not been issued one of these above, you must indicate so by checking the appropriate box on the application for ballot by mail.
The ID number you provide in your application for mail-in ballot and when you return your completed ballot must match your voter registration record.
You also need to sign the application with ink on paper, and that signature needs to match any previously filed signature in corresponding Texas Department of Public Safety records.
How do I avoid my application and/or ballot being rejected?
Most voters likely do not know which of their ID numbers is attached to their voter registration record. When in doubt, it is recommended you fill out both.
You can provide both a driver's license number and the last four digits of your Social Security number, if you have them.
This will help potential voters avoid issues, as long as their county has at least one that matches on file.
When applying for a mail ballot, the ID field is near the top of the form.
When returning a completed mail ballot, the ID field is under the flap of the carrier envelope your county sent you with your ballot.
An example of a carrier envelope for mail ballots in Texas. Many are being sent back because the ID numbers aren't filled in or do not match the voter registration record. Some are also being sent back because they do not have signatures.
The last day your application can be received by your Early Voting Clerk is Friday, February 18, in order for you to receive a ballot by mail for the March 1, 2022 Texas Primary Election.
What are the Texas mail ballot-related deadlines?
Friday, Feb. 18
Mail ballot applications must be received by (not postmarked) Friday, Feb. 18.*
Tuesday, March 1
Completed mail ballots must be postmarked by 7 p.m. on March 1. They can also be delivered in person on election day.
*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.
How can I send in my mail ballot application?
- In-person delivery;
- Regular mail;
- Common or contract carrier; or
- Fax (if a fax machine is available to your Early Voting Clerk)*
- Email (send a signed, scanned application as an attachment to an email to the early voting clerk)*
*If you fax or e-mail your application to the Clerk, you must also mail the application so that the Clerk receives it no later than the fourth business day after the day the Clerk received your faxed or emailed application. If you fax or e-mail your application by the deadline of February 18, your application will be considered complete and timely as long as the original is received by the early voting clerk by the fourth business day after it was submitted by fax or e-mail.
What if my mail ballot application or completed ballot is rejected or flagged?
If your mail ballot application or completed ballot is rejected or flagged, it does not mean you will not be able to vote, so long as you are able to correct the issue ahead of the corresponding deadline.
Local election officials will try to notify you about any issue with your application or completed ballot via phone or email.
For applications: Your county election office will send you a new application with a letter explaining the issue and how to correct it. Applicants may also be able to correct any issues by signing in to the state's online ballot tracker using both their driver's license number and last four digits of their Social Security number. If you can't correct the issue online, you may have to send in a new application.
For completed ballots: If your election office has enough time before the deadline, they will send back your completed ballot and carrier envelope with instructions on how to fix the issue.
Can I track my mail ballot application or completed ballot?
Yes. You can track the status of your mail ballot application or completed mail ballot by clicking here.