The deadline for Texans to apply to vote by mail has come and gone, but the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague the state, making it inevitable that some Texans will come down with the virus before they’ve had a chance to cast their ballots.
Fortunately, this does not mean that these Texans have lost their chance to vote safely. Here’s what Texans with COVID-19 need to know about casting their ballot after the mail-in ballot application deadline has passed. And remember, if you have any problems at the polls, call 866-OUR-VOTE or visit texaselectionprotection.org.
1. Can I cast a ballot safely after the mail-in ballot application is due?
Yes! There are two options. If your symptoms are mild enough that you’re able to safely make it to your polling place, you can do curbside voting, the easier of the two. Learn more about that process here.
If your symptoms are severe, you can send someone to your election clerk for an emergency early voting ballot (or “late ballot”) if you become sick after the mail-in ballot application deadline has passed. That said, there are extra steps to take to verify that you qualify for this ballot, and the application must be returned to the election clerk before 5 pm on Election Day (November 3rd).
2. How do I submit the application and the ballot?
You must choose someone who will make the trips to and from the election clerk’s office to retrieve and return these forms; they will be required to sign a form that they picked up your materials for you, so it’s important that the same person turn those materials back in.
When you receive your application materials, you will also need to have a physician fill out one of the forms certifying that you are indeed ill and unable to vote safely in person. This is crucial. If you do not include the physician’s certification, your ballot will not be counted.
3. What if I can’t reach my physician in time for the ballot submission deadline?
Our friends at MOVE Texas have your back! MOVE Texas is launching their Emergency Ballot Telemedicine Program, designed to connect voters in need of physician’s certification for the emergency/late ballot process with volunteer physicians who are willing to meet virtually and digitally sign the late ballot.
Statistically, some voters will be exposed to the virus in the days before the election. Emergency Ballots are the alternative, but they require a doctor's note. Understanding that access to healthcare can be difficult for low income, young people of color, MOVE is here to help. pic.twitter.com/n4lhwfP29c — MOVE Texas ®️ (@MOVE_texas) October 23, 2020
Any voters in need of the physician’s certification can call MOVE Texas’ hotline at (833-4MOVETX), or learn more about the program at movetexas.org/emergencyballot. The hotline will be staffed from 9 am – 5 pm Monday through Friday, and from 9 am – 2 pm Saturday and Sunday to speak with voters and schedule appointments.
More than anything, we want you to be safe and healthy, but if you do get sick, you do have options for making your voice heard in this historic election. And remember, if you have any problems at the polls, call 866-OUR-VOTE or visit texaselectionprotection.org.
Ash Hall is the digital coordinator at the Texas Civil Rights project.