TEXAS (KXAN) — Absentee voters in Texas will have a crucial extra step to complete on mail-in ballots this election cycle.
New rules passed by the Texas Legislature last year and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in September outline new requirements for certification of a voter’s mail-in ballot. Under Senate Bill 1voters go now you have to fill one of the following:
- Their driver’s license number issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety or personal identification card number issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety
- The last four digits of their social security number
- Check a box if no social security number or DPS-issued card is available.
Sam Taylor, assistant secretary of state for communications, said in an email that the number included need not match what was listed on the voter’s original mail-in registration application, but it must match what is in the voter registration file. . If it does not match, the ballot will be rejected.
“The vast majority of voters in Texas (about 96%) have both of these numbers on their registration records. However, we recommend voters who are unsure which number is on their voter registration record to put both in, just in case,” Taylor said. “It’s not mandatory, but it certainly can’t hurt, and will ensure that the voter’s request and mail-in ballot is handled properly by their county’s early voting clerk.”
This additional step is a supplement to the Absentee Voter Process for the Mail-in Ballot Request Process and the Mail-in Ballot Submission Process. Mail-in voting is available to eligible Texas voters based on the following qualifications:
- An elector is 65 years of age or older
- A voter is ill or disabled
- A voter will be out of county on election day and during the early voting period
- A voter is expected to give birth within three weeks before or after Election Day
- A voter is currently in jail but is otherwise eligible to vote
When it comes to requesting an absentee ballot, county poll clerks must receive the request by February 18. Once an eligible absentee voter receives their absentee ballot, the county advance poll clerk must receive their ballot marked with:
- 7 p.m. on election day
- 5:00 p.m. on the first business day after Election Day if the postmarked ballot was sent from the United States by non-military voters and by any military voter who submitted a mail-in ballot request
- The fifth day after Election Day if the ballot was submitted from outside the United States
“[Voters]will be required to include their DL or SSN under the flap of the carrier envelope before sealing and signing the envelope,” Victoria Hinojosa of the Travis County Clerk’s Office said in an email. “If the voter is unsure of the number used on their voter registration application, they should include BOTH their DL and SSN on the envelope.”
Hinojosa added that any county residents with questions about their mail-in ballot can call 512-238-8683 for more information.
Early voting for the joint primary election begins Monday February 14 and ends Friday February 25. Election day is Tuesday, March 1.