So, You Want to Vote By Mail, Now What?
Answers to your VBM questions
With the May 1 special election just around the corner (early voting runs April 19-27), here's info for Travis County voters not going to the polls.
Applying for a Mail Ballot
Q: I voted by mail in another election last year. Do I need to apply for a ballot again?
A: Yes, you will still need to apply; mail-in ballot applications expire at the end of each calendar year.
Q: How do I vote by mail?
A: To vote by mail, you must first apply for a ballot. The Travis County Elections Division only sends applications or ballots on specific request from a voter who's eligible due to being over 65 years old or claiming a disability.
Q: How do I apply for a ballot?
A: Download an application at the Travis County Clerk's Office VBM webpage (countyclerk.traviscountytx.gov/elections/ballot-by-mail) or an editable PDF version from the Texas Secretary of State (webservices.sos.state.tx.us/forms/5-15f.pdf). Print and fill out the application; then mail, fax, or email it to the Travis County Clerk.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Fax: 512/854-3969. Mail: Dana DeBeauvoir Travis County Clerk – Elections Division, PO Box 149325 Austin, TX 78714-9325.
Note: If you submit an application by fax or email, it must also be mailed, and received by the county clerk within four business days of your electronic submission.
Q: How do I apply for a ballot if I don't have access to a printer?
A: The Travis County Clerk's Office's VBM webpage has specific instructions for how to request a mail ballot in a letter. You may also request a ballot application online at the Texas Secretary of State's website (www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/reqabbm.shtml), and one will be mailed to you. But time is tight.
Q: What's the deadline to apply for a ballot?
A: For the May 1 special election, the last day to request a ballot by mail is Tuesday, April 20 (received at the clerk's office, not postmarked).
Q: I've filled out my ballot application – how/where can I check its status?
A: Go to www.votetravis.com, scroll down to the "Voter Lookup" section, enter the requested info, and then click the "BBM Status" button.
Submitting Your Ballot
Q: I've received my ballot and I've filled it out. What's the deadline for turning it in?
A: The ballot must be postmarked by May 1 and received in the county clerk's office by May 3. Mail to the address above or hand-deliver to the Travis County Clerk's Office (5501 Airport Blvd.) by May 1.
Q: If I apply for a ballot, can I still vote in person if I so decide? If so, what steps do I need to take?
A: Yes. If you already received a ballot, you may bring it to an early voting polling location to surrender it to an early voting clerk. There, you'll sign a form requesting cancellation of the mail ballot, and then vote normally at the polls. If you don't bring the mail ballot, you'll have to sign an affidavit saying you didn't mark and mail in the ballot; you'll then vote provisionally.
Q: How do I vote if I don't receive my ballot in time?
A: You'll need to go to a polling location and fill out an affidavit, as above.
Follow our May 1 special election coverage at austinchronicle.com/elections.