As Election Day approaches, access to mail-in balloting faces challenges from those who distrust that method of voting, and now, from the U.S. Postal Service, or USPS, which is warning states, including Texas, that mail-in ballots might not be counted if they’re mailed too close to the election.
A letter from the U.S. Postal Service sent this week to officials in several states, including Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs, warns that current vote-by-mail deadlines could result in some votes not being counted in November.
James Barragán is a statehouse reporter for the Dallas Morning News. He told Texas Standard that the USPS letter refers to a “mismatch” that could cause ballots mailed near the Texas deadline not to be received in time to be counted.
“The risk is considerable,” Barragán said “and… [that’s what] the Postal Service is trying to warn Texas election officials about, so they might set in motion some rules or some guidance for voters trying to vote by mail.”
Voters who are eligible to vote by mail in Texas have until 11 days before an election to request a mail-in ballot, but requests can be made sooner, Barragán said.
You can request a mail-in ballot now by filling out a form provided by the Secretary of State, and mailing it to your county elections office. The county will mail a ballot to eligible voters who submit a request, up to 45 days before the election. The ballot must be returned to the county elections office and postmarked no later than Election Day, which is November 3.
Barragán suggests checking with county election officials before Election Day to find out if your mail-in ballot has been received.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has made a number of changes at USPS that have angered vote-by-mail advocates, Democrats in Congress and others who believe that the Trump administration is placing roadblocks in the way of those who wish to vote by mail.
“Democrats believe that President Trump’s administration is trying to make cuts to the Postal Service, or changes to the service that will impact vote-by-mail,” Barragán said. “Because [Trump] himself has said ‘if they don’t have the funding, they can’t deliver the ballots by mail.'”
A Congressional committee is conducting an investigation of DeJoy’s changes and cuts to USPS. The postmaster general is expected to testify before the committee Friday.
Barragán said that in addition to obtaining a vote-by-mail request form from the state, eligible voters should contact their county election office to get information about how the process works, and what deadlines they must meet to cast a ballot.
“What happens is that a lot of ballots get rejected because there’s a missing signature, or the signatures don’t match up, or the ballot isn’t received on time,” he said. “The best advice is to call your local elections office and say ‘Hey, how do I do this correctly, because I want to make sure my vote counts.'”
Web story by Shelly Brisbin.