VOTING DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Watch the recording from our Safe Voting Town Hall with Dr. Richard Wasserman, Robert Elkin and Dianne Saslaw here.
Jewish tradition values human life above virtually all else. In the Book of Genesis, we are taught that God created human life in the image of the Divine (Genesis 1:27). Our rabbis teach that to save one life is to save an entire world, and to destroy one life is to destroy an entire world. Proudly, our congregation has responded to the pandemic by foregoing in-person religious gatherings to protect the lives of those around us, and we are encouraged to live out our Jewish values and teachings by staying home unless leaving home is essential.
- Voting by Mail
- Who Is Eligible to Vote By Mail
- How to Apply for A Ballot by Mail
- Instructions for Properly Handling and Returning a Vote by Mail Ballot
- Timeline for Voting by Mail
- Will be away from their county on Election Day and during every day of early voting; or
- Are 65 years of age or older on November 3, 2020; or
- Are confined in jail, but eligible to vote; or
- Have a disability
RETURNING YOUR MAIL-IN BALLOT:
- Personal Delivery (Recommended): You can personally deliver the ballot to the Election Department on any day on which Early Voting is being held or by Tuesday, November 3, 2020 (Election Day) at 7 p.m. If you personally deliver your ballot, you must show the same acceptable form of voter ID as if you were voting in person. Your county may provide the option of dropping off your ballot at the Election Department without leaving your car. Check with your county election officials about that option. You may only personally deliver your own ballot – you may NOT have someone else deliver it and you may NOT deliver someone else’s ballot.
- Mail: At this point, we do NOT recommend mailing your ballot in. Pleae drop-off in person or call Fed Ex, or go to polling place and surrender your ballot. If you never received your mail-in ballot, you can vote in person and have your mail-in ballot canceled.
- Courier: You can use a courier service to deliver the ballot to the Election Department by Tuesday, November 3, 2020 (Election Day) at 7 p.m.
Check out this video for a step-by-step guidance on how to ensure that your vote by mail ballot will count.
Track your mail-in ballot here.
Away from County
If you will be away from your county of residence on Election Day and every day of early voting, you can vote by mail. This includes college students who have moved away for school, people on extended work travel or vacation, or any other reason for being out of town.
If you are a college student away at school in Texas, you have the option of registering to vote in your college county or applying to vote by mail in your original county of residence.
Age 65 or Older
If you will be age 65 or older on Election Day (November 3, 2020), you are eligible to vote by mail. Even if you are used to voting in person, please strongly consider voting by mail this year.
Among adults, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk. Severe illness means that the person with COVID-19 may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they may even die. People in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older.
In addition to limiting the risk to yourself and others, when you vote by mail, you can help keep lines shorter at polling locations. That will help keep others safe as well. So please consider voting by mail.
You can also vote by mail if you have a “disability.” What does that mean?
The 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.” (Sec. 82.002). Voters who meet this definition and wish to vote by mail need only check the box for disability in their application. Please check with your County election office for guidance on who will be sent a vote by mail ballot.
It is Texas law that “the decision to apply to vote by mail based on a disability is the voter’s, subject to a correct understanding of the statutory definition of ‘disability.’” How do you know if you meet the definition, especially during the global pandemic?
The Texas Supreme Court (In re Texas, May 20, 2020, Hecht, J.) has said that lack of immunity to Covid-19, by itself, does not qualify as a disability, but, when addressing the concept of “disability” during the COVID-19 pandemic, offered the following guidance:
“A voter can take into consideration aspects of his health and his health history that are physical conditions in deciding whether, under the circumstances, to apply to vote by mail because of disability.”
- Center for Disease Control list of People who Are at Higher Risk for Severe Illness
- Watch this video made by the League of Women Voters
- Learn more: Voters with Disabilities
- Questions or concerns? Please contact the Secretary of State at 800.252.VOTE or Texas Voter Protection 800.OUR.VOTE(8683) or your county election official
When filling out your application based on disability, you are only required to mark the box labeled “Disability.” You do not need to write in what you believe your disability is, as there are privacy and other legal reasons why the form does not require you to specify your illness or condition. The elections office has no legal authority to require voters verify their disability to apply for ballot by mail.
In Texas, if you want to vote by mail, you must fill out an application for a vote by mail ballot. You can print an application using this link or you can request an application be mailed to you through this link.
Once you have the application, you must fill it out with a blue or black pen and follow the instructions to mail it back.
While the deadline for having the county receive (NOT when you mail it, but when the county receives it) your application is October 23, 2020, it is strongly recommended that you mail your application well in advance of that date. If you wait to send your application so it is received on October 23, you will NOT receive your ballot until October 30 at the earliest, giving you very little time to get it returned in the mail in time for it to count.
*If you have not received your mail-in ballot, call your county Elections Department to check on the status. Dallas County can be reached at 469.627.8683
Each completed application must be mailed in your own envelope (one envelope per application) to your county elections official:
1520 Round Table Drive, Dallas 75247
2700 Premier Street, Fort Worth, TX 76111
P.O. Box 961011, Fort Worth, TX 76161
Bruce R. Sherbet
2010 Redbud Blvd., Suite 102,
701 Kimberly Dr. A101 Denton, TX 76201
P.O. Box 1720, Denton 76202
Ballot packets are supposed to be mailed to you 30 days before the election or within 7 days of receiving the application. If you mailed your application by September 26, you will likely receive your ballot by October 10. If you mailed your application after September 26, then you may not receive your ballot until later in October, giving you very little time to return it by mail in time for your vote to count. Please note that people have often not received their ballot packet in a timely fashion – all the more reason to submit your application as early as you possibly can.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR PROPERLY HANDLING AND RETURNING A VOTE BY MAIL BALLOT
Once you have submitted your application, you should receive your ballot packet in the mail. You must receive it in time to submit it so that it arrives on time to be counted. We strongly recommend that you fill out and return your ballot immediately upon receiving it.
Your ballot package will come with several pieces of paper:
- An Instruction Sheet
- A Ballot (which could be many pages)
- A White Secrecy Envelope
- A Brown Carrier Envelope
- In addition, some voters may receive a green “Statement of Residence” form
After reviewing the instructions carefully, your next step is to decide how you want to vote, and that is totally up to you. Once you decide, here’s how to ensure your vote counts.
- Carefully mark your ballot to accurately reflect the choice you want to make.
- Place the marked ballot in the white secrecy envelope and seal it.
- Then place the sealed white envelope in the brown mailing envelope.
- If you received the Statement of Residency form, complete that and also place it in the brown mailing envelope.
- Seal the brown envelope and sign the envelope with the same signature you used on your application.
What if you have a vote-by-mail ballot but change your mind and want to vote in person? You are allowed to change your mind and decide to vote in person instead of by mail. Here’s what you need to do:
- Do not mark your vote-by-mail ballot.
- Take your unmarked ballot with you to the polling station.
- You will have to wait your turn like a regular voter.
- Turn the unmarked ballot into the voting clerk.
- They will instruct you on the process from there. After you complete the necessary steps, you will be allowed to vote a regular ballot.
- However, if you lose or forget your ballot, you can cast only a provisional ballot at the polling station.
What if I become disabled or ill after the deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot? You will still be able to vote. Here’s how:
- Contact your county election office for details on how to request a late ballot. It requires an assistant committed to two round-trips to the election office, as well as a physician-signed certification of your illness or disability.
- Curbside voting is available to voters who are sick or are physically unable to enter the polling place. Voters may ask that an election officer bring a ballot to their car.
TIMELINE FOR VOTING BY MAIL
To summarize, the following deadlines apply, and we again urge you to act significantly in advance of these deadlines.
- Tuesday, September 15, is the date by which we recommend you send in your application for a vote-by-mail ballot.
- Saturday, October 10, is the date by which you should have received your vallot packet if you mailed your application by September 26.
- Friday, October 23, is the Last Day to Apply for Ballot by Mail (Received by County, not Postmarked) *See above for recommended date.
- Tuesday, November 3 (Election Day)
- You can mail the ballot, in which case it must be post-marked no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day AND must arrive at the Election Department by Wednesday, November 4 at 5 p.m.
- Please note that if you wait to mail your ballot until Election Day, there is virtually no chance that it will arrive by 5 p.m. the next day, and therefore your ballot will not count.
- You can use a courier service or personally deliver the ballot to the Election Department by Tuesday, November 3, 2020 (Election Day) at 7 p.m.
- Elections Department address for drop off and courier can be found here.
- If you personally deliver your ballot, you may bring the ballot to the Election Department on days of Early Voting (Oct. 13-30) in addition to Election Day. In Dallas County, you can drop off your ballot without getting out of your car. Check with your county election administrator about this option.
- Please be prepared to show your acceptable form of voter ID if you choose to drop off your ballot in person at the Elections Department.
IN PERSON VOTING DURING THE PANDEMIC
If you must vote in person, there are ways to do it as safely as is possible during a pandemic. The Texas Secretary of State and local election officials have come up with protocols and recommendations to keep both voters and poll workers out of harm’s way. The best way to avoid crowds is to utilize Early Voting. Vote as early as you possibly can!
How Do I Vote Safely?
- UTILIZE EARLY VOTING (Oct. 13-30, 2020). and vote during hours when the lines are shorter - mornings/afternoons/weekends.
- Before going to the polls, self-screen for potential symptoms of COVID-19.
- If you have symptoms, you can consider curbside or drive through voting. Contact your county elections administrator to learn about eligibility for the curbside voting program and for information on where your county has drive-through voting.
- Wear a well fitted mask. Please note that voters are not required to wear masks in the polling locations.
- Keep 6 feet distance from others to the extent feasible. Do NOT touch your face under any circumstances.
- Bring your own hand sanitizer, If you live in Dallas County, you will be provided with a sterilized stylus to vote. In other counties, you may want to bring your own pen or pencil for checking in and marking ballot.
- Upon entering your polling place, disinfect your hands, and repeat personal disinfection protocols after any interaction with any election equipment, workers or poll watchers. We suggest getting in and out as quickly as possible.
Questions or concerns? Please contact the Secretary of State at 1.800.252.VOTE or Texas Voter Protection at 1.866.OUR.VOTE (687.8683) or your county election official.
Where Do I Vote?
- Find your nearest voting center in Dallas County
- Find your nearest voting center in Collin County
- Find your nearest voting center in Denton County
- Early Voting Location Finder
Don't Forget Your ID!
The State of Texas has new requirements for ID at the polls. Click here for a list of acceptable photo IDs and information on how to vote even if you don’t have one of the listed photo IDs. If you have any questions about voter ID, email email@example.com or call 1.844.338.8743.