FAQ on Mail-in Ballots in Hays County
This year there is heightened interest in voting by mail. To help you with the process, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions.
What’s the deadline to request a mail-in ballot?
To vote by mail, you need to complete an application, which is available for download in English and Spanish, and send it to the Hays County Elections Office. The application deadline for the Nov. 3 election is Oct. 23; the Elections Office must receive your application by the close of business at 5 p.m.
IMPORTANT: Don’t wait until the last minute. If you know you want to vote by mail, apply as soon as you can to avoid possible delays with the U.S. Postal Service. Return your completed ballot soon after you receive it.
To be eligible to vote 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
What have the courts said about eligibility?
In a ruling in late May 2020, the Texas Supreme Court said that it is up to individuals to determine if they meet the disability requirement. Texas Election Code defines “disability” to include “a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on Election Day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter’s health” (Texas Election Code § 82.002).
In reporting on the ruling the Texas Tribune wrote, “When voters cite disability to request an absentee ballot, they’re not required to say what the disability is. The voters simply check a box on the application form, and if their application is properly filled out, local officials are supposed to send them a ballot. The state ultimately conceded that officials can’t reject those voters.” County elections administrators cannot question or deny a voter’s claim of disability.
What do I need to know about completing the application?
- Complete sections 1-4 with your personal information.
- In section 5, check the box that qualifies you to receive a ballot by mail. If you have determined that voting in person could injure your health as defined in Texas Election Code, check “Disability” in box 5 but do not write anything else in that area. Do not list your disability, COVID-19, or anything else.
- In box 6a, check “Annual Application” so that you will automatically get mail-in ballots for all of 2020.
- Be sure to sign your application in box 10.
- Mail your application to the Early Voting Clerk at the following address for Hays County:
Hays County Elections
712 South Stagecoach Trail
San Marcos, TX 78666
To move the process along faster, you can email a scanned copy of the application to
firstname.lastname@example.org or fax it to 512-878-6699, BUT you must also mail the form to the early voting clerk within four business days.
How do I complete my mail-in ballot?
- The ballot comes in a large green envelope from the Elections Office, so be sure to open it!
- Inside you’ll find your ballot, a white ballot envelope, a yellow mailer envelope, and other informational inserts.
- Use a black or blue ink pen to completely fill in the box next to the candidate’s name for whom you want to cast your vote.
- Fold your ballot, place it in the WHITE ballot envelope, and seal the envelope.
- Put the sealed white ballot envelope inside the YELLOW mailer envelope.
- Seal the YELLOW envelope, and be sure to sign it on the back.
- Put a stamp on the envelope, and mail it before election day — the sooner the better! If more than one person in your household is voting by mail, you must send each ballot separately using the same procedure. Each envelope has an identifying barcode, and each signature on the back must match the signature the Elections Office has on file.
Can I hand deliver my mail-in ballot?
If you decide that you want to avoid using the postal service, you can hand deliver your completed ballot to the Hays County Elections Office at the Hays County Government Center, 712 S. Stagecoach Trail, San Marcos, TX. Voters can drop off ONLY their own marked ballot and must present an acceptable form of identification when doing so.
IMPORTANT: Texas Election Law does not allow for drop boxes, so do not deposit your ballot into any drop box, or your ballot will not be counted. You must either mail or hand deliver your ballot to the county elections administrator (Texas Election Code 86.006).
You can return marked mail-in ballots to the Elections Office as soon as you receive them — you do not need to wait for the start of the early voting period. The Hays County Elections Office will start sending mail-in ballots to voters on Sept. 18.
The Elections Office must receive mail-in ballots without a postmark by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. The office must receive ballots postmarked on or before Election Day by 5 p.m. on the day after the election.
How do I know if my mail-in ballot has been received?
The Hays County Elections Office maintains and updates daily a public list of mail-in ballots they have received. You can view the list and confirm receipt of your ballot at https://hayscountytx.com/departments/elections/current-year-elections/.
Can I vote in person if I have received a mail-in ballot?
If you receive a mail-in ballot but later decide to vote in person, then you must surrender the mail-in ballot at the polling site so election workers can cancel it in the database before you can vote in person. If you plan to do that, please try to do it during early voting and at a time when lines aren’t very long since it slows down the check-in process. If you can’t find your ballot or if you never received it, you can cast a provisional ballot in person. Your vote will be counted after the election administrators determine that they never received your mail-in ballot.
Why can’t everyone in Texas vote by mail?
The Republicans in power want to remain in power and therefore want to limit convenient access to voting. Texas Republican leaders are continuing their efforts to block expansion of voting methods, effectively limiting some people’s access to voting and effectively engaging in voter suppression. The Texas Democratic Party has filed several lawsuits to end such disenfranchisement. You can keep up with their efforts at https://www.texasdemocrats.org/media/texas-democratic-party-lawsuits-challenging-republican-voter-suppression-efforts-and-protecting-voting-rights/.