by Vicky Cai
General Election Important Dates:
Election Day: November 3, 2020
In-Person Early Voting dates vary among states. For example:
Texas: October 13 – October 30
Florida: October 19 – November 1
Wisconsin: October 20 – November 1
The internet provides all the information you’ll need to figure out how to vote early in your state. Simply Google search “Early voting in (your state) 2020” to find out in-person early voting dates in your state. Below is an example for Pennsylvania:
How to request a mail-in ballot in Texas
If you do not feel comfortable voting in-person, the best way for you to vote is by requesting and filling out a mail-in ballot. It is also good to request an absentee ballot if you plan to be out of the state during both the early voting period and on Election Day, or if you are a student at an out-of- county university.
The deadline for requesting a mail-in ballot varies among states, but you can find out your state’s deadline on the internet. For example:
Texas: October 23, 2020, Friday
Florida: October 24, 2020, Saturday
Wisconsin: October 29, 2020, Thursday
It is important to know that the accepted reasons for requesting mail-in ballots vary among states. Six states (Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas) do not accept COViD-19 as a valid reason to request a mail-in ballot. So if you live in one of these six states and you want to vote by mail, you will have to find out (on the internet or using other sources) what criteria you have to meet in order to request a mail-in or absentee ballot.
For example, in Texas, in order to vote by mail, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- Be 65 years or older on election day
- Be sick or disabled
- Expect to be out of the county on election day and during the in-person voting window
- Be confined in jail, but otherwise eligible
If you do not meet any of these criteria, you are not eligible to receive a mail-in ballot in the 2020 general election. In this case, you may vote early in-person between October 13th and 30th or on election day, November 3rd. When you vote in-person, you will need to present some form of Photo ID: driver’s licenses, Texas personal identification cards, Texas election identification certificates, handgun licenses, military identification cards, US passports, and US citizenship certificates containing your photograph are all acceptable.
How to fill out and submit your Application for Ballot by Mail (ABBM) in Texas:
- You’ll need to obtain an application form, either by printing it as a PDF or by submitting an order online and an ABBM will be mailed to you.
- Link to a printable PDF: https://webservices.sos.state.tx.us/forms/5-15f.pdf
- Online form for ordering a mail-in application: https://bbm.sos.state.tx.us/bbm.asp
- Fill out boxes 1-8 of the form:
- Boxes 1, 2, and 4 are very straightforward to fill in: fill in your first and last name, middle initial, and any suffixes you have in Box 1, the address of your residence in Box 2, and your Date of Birth in Box 4.
- If you are currently confined in jail but otherwise eligible to vote, you should fill in the address of your current facility in Box 2.
- Box 3 will be relatively straightforward if you plan to be at home during the early voting days and election day. But if you will be out of the county or if you are in jail, it will be a bit more complicated.
- If you plan to be out of the county during election day and the early voting period, the address you put in Box 3 can be any address outside the county where you are able to receive and collect mail. For example, if you are a university student going to a school in another county, or if you have a second home located in another county that you plan to be at during the voting days, you may include the address of your out-of-county residence.
- If you are confined in jail, you should list the address of the jail you currently reside in in Box 3.
- Fill out Boxes 5-8; they should be quite straightforward.
- Fill out Box 9 using the information regarding county clerk email addresses and fax numbers listed at the bottom: find your county name at the bottom of this page and copy the information to box 9.
- Sign your name in Box 10. If you are unable to sign the form, you will need a witness and/or assistant to be present while you fill out the form, who will then fill out and sign in box 11.
- You may mail, email, or fax your application to the early voting clerk in your county. The addresses are listed at the bottom. The application deadline is 11 days before election day, or October 23. If you email or fax the application, you also need to mail it out within four days of your email or fax. (If you email/fax it out on the 23rd, you have until the 27th to mail the application out to your county clerk.) But to ensure that you receive your ballot with enough time to make your vote counted, we recommend filling out and sending your application as soon as you can.
Note: it is a good idea to email first and mail out later, so you could have a record and could follow up to ensure they receive it.
Once you have received your ballot, fill it out, and then mail it out to the return address listed on your ballot. It must be postmarked by November 3, but the USPS recommends that in order to ensure that it arrives on time and is counted, you should send it out no later than October 27th. So play it safe and do it right away.