x
Breaking News
More () »

San Antonio's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | San Antonio, Texas | KENS5.com

TIPS: How to prevent mail-in ballot theft

There has been a rise in voter ballot thefts across the State of Texas.

TYLER, Texas — **EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article stated mail-in ballot theft was on the rise across Texas. This was anecdotal and not confirmed by officials. We regret the error.

With more people opting to stay inside this voting season, thieves are turning their attention to your mailboxes. 

If you do become a victim of ballot theft, you can ensure it wasn't because you requested your ballot through the USPS app "Informed Delivery."

Once you've received your ballot and are ready to send it back, consider skipping the mailbox entirely.

"I would drop it off at a post office box or off at the post office," Tyler Police Department Public Information Officer Andy Erbaugh said. "That way you know it's going to a postal carrier."

Taking it in person helps to avoid any middle man and more importantly, any thieves.

To be eligible to vote early by mail in Texas, you must:

  • 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.

Instructions for submitting an Application for Ballot by Mail (ABBM):

  1. Print (PDF) the ABBM form or submit an order online and an ABBM will be mailed to you.
  2. Complete Sections 1 through 8.
  3. Sign and Date Section 10.
  4. If you were unable to sign the application and someone witnessed your signature, that person must complete Section 11.
  5. If someone helped you complete the application or mailed the application for you, that person must complete Section 11.
  6. Affix postage.
    • If you printed the application you must place it in your own envelope and add postage.
    • If you ordered the application online and it was mailed to you - fold the application in half, moisten top tab, seal and add postage.
  7. Address and mail the completed ABBM to the Early Voting Clerk in your county. You may also fax the application if a fax machine is available in the early voting clerk’s office. You also have the option of submitting a scanned copy of the completed and signed application to the Early Voting Clerk via email. If an ABBM is faxed or emailed, then the original, hard copy of the application MUST be mailed and received by the early voting clerk no later than the 4th business day.
    • The Early Voting Clerk is the County Clerk or Elections Administrator for your county
    • Contact information, including mailing addresses, fax numbers if available, and email addresses for the Early Voting Clerks are available here.

Applications can be dropped off in person before the start of early voting, which begins Tuesday, Oct. 13, for the general election, and local election officials must receive mailed applications by Friday, Oct. 23. 

NOTE: Do not mail, fax or email completed applications for ballot by mail to the Secretary of State's office. All applications received by this office will be rejected. 

Military and overseas voters are welcome to use the regular registration and early voting by mail process available to all voters away from their home county on Election Day. However, there are also special provisions for military and overseas voters.

When will I get my ballot?

There is no specific date, but there are rules counties must follow. If your county elections office receives your application to vote by mail more than 45 days before Election Day, the county must send your ballot at least 30 days out from the election. Some counties are aiming to get the ballots out sooner, but they can't send them until the entire county ballot — from the race for president to local water districts — is certified.

If your application is received after the 45-day mark, the county must mail out your ballot within seven days of approving your application.

What is the deadline to submit my ballot?

For most people voting absentee, Texas counties must receive completed ballots by Election Day. If they’re postmarked by 7 p.m. that day, they’ll be counted if they come in the next day by 5 p.m.

The U.S. Postal Service recommends that Texans ask for mail-in ballots no later than 15 days out from that due date. But state law allows voters to request the ballots up until a week and a half before Election Day, so some may not receive their ballots until it’s too late to mail them back in time.

For most people voting absentee, Texas counties must receive completed ballots by Election Day. If they’re postmarked by 7 p.m. that day, they’ll be counted if they come in the next day by 5 p.m.

The U.S. Postal Service recommends that Texans ask for mail-in ballots no later than 15 days out from that due date. But state law allows voters to request the ballots up until a week and a half before Election Day, so some may not receive their ballots until it’s too late to mail them back in time.

Texans voting absentee can also deliver their completed ballots in person at their county elections office instead of mailing them in. That’s typically only allowed while polls are open on Election Day, but the state has expanded that option during the pandemic to allow voters to return their ballots in person as soon as they’re completed. Those voters will need to present photo ID when dropping off their ballots. 

What could cause my ballot to be rejected?

Be careful filling out your ballot. In addition to missing the deadline, a ballot could be rejected for multiple reasons. Some voters forget to sign their ballots. Ballot review boards may find a signature mismatch between the endorsement on a ballot and the one on the voter’s application. Other ballots could be rejected if a voter indicated they would be out of the county during the voting period, but the ballot was mailed from within the county.

If your ballot is rejected for some reason, you should eventually be notified. But generally a voter won’t know if their ballot was rejected until well after the election.

Who can I call to make sure my ballot is received?

You can call your county elections office. You can find a list of county elections offices and their contact information here.

Can I vote in person if I have already requested a mail-in ballot? 

The short answer is yes. The process will be more streamlined if you bring your mail-in ballot with you to your polling place so you can surrender it before casting your vote. If you don’t have your ballot or never received it, you can still cast a provisional ballot. Your vote will be counted once the county determines it never received your mail-in ballot.

For more information, click here to read the Early Voting in Texas pamphlet.

RELATED: 2.5 million people early voted Tuesday as record pace continues

RELATED: Texas counties temporarily blocked from offering multiple mail-in ballot drop-off locations