Abbott campaign’s mail-in voter apps cause problems for district clerks

If you received one of those handy vote-by-mail applications that was recently delivered straight to your mailbox—attached to a fancy red-white-and-blue campaign flyer for one of the candidates in Texas’ March 6, 2018, primaries—you might have appreciated how convenient that was.

Kel Seliger, District 31 incumbent senatorial candidate, and Ken King, District 88 incumbent representative candidate, both sent out application cards with their campaign literature that were clearly marked for the Republican primary. Anyone who returned those cards will be fine.

But if you tore off the one attached to Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign flyer, and mailed that in, assuming you were all set, you may have been snookered.

Abbott’s mail-in applications were incomplete. They don’t specify whether voters want a Democratic or Republican primary ballot. As soon as the omission was discovered, the Secretary of State notified voting clerks that those applications cannot be accepted, unless the party is selected.

District clerks all over the state now face the prospect of having to send those voters new applications which must be resubmitted. That process costs additional time and postage—and more than a little bit of confusion for voters.

The deadline to apply for a ballot by mail is Feb. 23, so there is still plenty of time to complete the process. Hemphill County District Clerk Lisa Johnson promised this week that her office will do everything it can to accomodate those voters.

“Just call the clerk’s office and we will get you another application,” she said, adding, “even if we have to deliver it to your home.”

Johnson said that, by the end of last week, her office had only received two of the unmarked applications, and had quickly mailed those cards back to voters, asking them to select the party primary in which they wish to cast a ballot.

“We’ve already mailed out ballots by mail for the properly marked applications,” said Johnson. “We’ll work with voters however we can to get them a ballot in a timely manner.”

To ensure that everyone who wants to vote by mail is able to, Johnson urged anyone who has returned their application and not received their ballot by mail to call her office at 806.323.6212.

Those eligible for early voting by mail are those registered voters who will be: (1) out of the county during early voting and on Election Day; (2) age 65 or older; (3) sick or disabled; or (4) confined to jail, but otherwise eligible.

The deadline to submit an application for a mail-in ballot is Feb. 23. The completed ballot must be postmarked by 7 pm on March 6, the evening of this year’s primary election.

If a voter receives a mail-in ballot, but then decides to vote in person, they can bring the ballot to the polling place and have it canceled on site. Poll workers will have a listing of those voters who have received ballots by mail.

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