Tips to Voting by Mail in the March Primary

Many of our seniors, clients, community, and church members are used to voting by mail. However, the new voting law made changes to the Ballot by Mail(BBM) application.

Previously, if you voted by mail in the past many counties would automatically send a ballot by mail application for any upcoming election. That is no longer the case. You now have to request a ballot. On top of that, up to 50% of applications have been rejected in some counties due to new strict guidelines about the contact information that must be included.

The issue is the new request for one of three forms of identification numbers – a Texas driver’s license, Texas Personal ID, or Election Identification Certificate. Since it may have been decades since someone has registered to vote, most don’t remember which identification number they last entered. When the numbers don’t match, the application is rejected. On top of that, counties cannot assist voters in any way regarding these applications, and they may or may not contact them about the rejection.

With that in mind, here are some NEW tips for Ballot by Mail(BBM) Applications:

  1. Each person eligible for BBM must now request an application. If there are multiple persons in the household eligible for ballot by mail, they each must make their individual application request. The County cannot send out unsolicited applications. Political parties and other entities can send unsolicited BBM applications but NOT the County.
  2. NEW! Fill out every section of the application including your contact information in case there is an issue with your application.
  3. NEW! Provide your Voter ID number – This can be a Texas Drivers License or personal ID, Election Identification Certificate Number or, if not available, the last four digits of your Social Security Number. Many groups are advising people to provide their driver’s license number AND last four digits of their Social Security number to ensure their application is not rejected.
  4. Use the same ID number on the ballot by mail application and the ballot carrier envelope that you used for your voter registration.
  5. February 18 is the last day to apply for ballot by mail

The Legislature Changed Voting Laws Last Year and Ballot by Mail(BBM) was Impacted

  • The Ballot by Mail application was changed to require 1 of 3 Personal IDs- Texas driver’s license, Texas Personal ID, or Election Identification Certificate, or lacking those, the last four digits of you social.
  • These numbers must match with the number you used in your voter registration.  However, since most ballot by mail applicants registered 10-40 years ago, they don’t know which number they used.
  • This has led to up to 50% of BBM applications being rejected in some counties.

Please Share this Simple Fix with Others

  • One way to ensure BBM applications are not rejected is to have people put both their Drivers License number AND the last four digits of their Social Security number.  This covers the bases and gives the information that is needed.
  • Also make sure that you write and sign your name as it appears on the voter registration card.
  • (Organizations and Individuals) If ballot applications have been rejected, follow up with the County elections administrator and ask how you can help educate voters and how they plan to handle rejected ballots.
  • There are more changes but this is the most urgent information needed for voters at this time

Other Resources:

Texas League of Women Voters Website Link

Matagorda County Elections Administration

Wharton County, Texas

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