Lynn Stucky, DVM, Texas State Representative
A recent poll of likely voters in Texas found that election integrity was among their top priorities for the Texas Legislature. As the discussion about the COVID-19 response continues, so does the conversation about ballot-by-mail and how to keep Texans safe.
For starters, Texans already have the ability to vote by mail. The Texas Election Code allows for anyone who is in the following categories to apply for a ballot by mail:
* be 65 years or older;
* be disabled;
* be out of the county on election day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance; or
* be confined in jail, but otherwise eligible.
To apply for ballot-by-mail, also called an “absentee ballot,” you can download a form online from the Texas Secretary of State’s website, print it out and mail it to your county’s Election Clerk or administrator’s office. You may also submit an online request online to have an application mailed to your home. The application period began on January 1 and will close for the November election on Friday, October 23.
It’s a simple enough process and includes instructions for older voters who may need assistance filling out the form. So, what does this have to do with election integrity?
The system developed in Texas includes many checks to verify the validity of these absentee ballots. This is the same system used to ensure our military servicemen and women who are deployed overseas are able to cast their votes each election. And it all starts with the application for a ballot by mail.
The application is the first checkpoint. The document asks for relevant information to confirm the voter’s identity. Additionally, a signature is required on the application, adding a new layer of identification. When a ballot comes back, it also contains a signature, which is compared to the application signature by an independent panel of citizens called the Signature Verification Committee. This committee may be appointed by the Early Voting Ballot Board (EVBB), which oversees the counting of early votes in an election. Each EVBB is composed of a presiding judge and at least two additional members.
The members of the EVBB and Signature Verification Committee are appointed by the local County Elections Board. The Texas Secretary of State’s Office recommends these appointments be made by October 1, 2020.
As with every election, it takes individual citizens stepping up to volunteer their time. Becoming an election worker, either at a polling location or with the Early Voting Ballot Board, is a great way to do your part to ensure election integrity remains intact. For information about how to get involved, contact the Denton County Elections at 940-349-3200 or email [email protected]