Many of us here in Denton County prefer to vote by mail (also known as absentee ballot), and this year there are some changes to that process, including the request form itself, so I want to be sure that you are aware of them.
Who Can Vote By Mail?
First of all, to be eligible to vote by mail, you must be at least 65 years of age, disabled as defined by state law, confined to a jail but not convicted of a felony, out of the county during early and election day timeframes, or if you are scheduled to deliver a baby within three weeks before or after the election.
Second, you must request an absentee ballot by mail, and the Denton County Elections Administrator Frank Phillips reports that about 25% of the requests being turned in currently are not using the new request form, and so must be rejected.
The main reason for rejection of the mail ballot requests is that the new form asks for either your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social security number, which is then checked against the information you provided when you first registered to vote. If those two numbers don’t match, the request is denied. Many of us registered to vote several years ago, and we may not recall which ID number was used. So, Mr. Phillips suggests that you provide both numbers on the current form, even though it only asks for one (either/or.)
What Are the Deadlines for Ballot by Mail?
The new form is somewhat different from the previous form, and so if you have used one from an earlier election, you will need to use the new form to make your request. Go to this website to get the right form: www.votedenton.gov/early-voting-by-mail-absentee. You must request that ballot by mail by Feb. 18, and the completed ballot must be returned by 5 p.m. Election Day.
If, however, you decide to vote in person after receiving your ballot by mail, you must surrender that ballot to the Election Judge before you will be allowed to vote in person. This is a safeguard against the voter fraud of double voting.
You also may wish to consider curbside voting, which allows you to stay in your car just outside the voting location and the Election Judge will have a ballot brought out to you in a privacy envelope.
Where to Vote?
There will be about three dozen Early Voting polling sites, and from February 14 through February 25; registered voters may vote at any of these locations. Tuesday, March 1, 2022, is Primary Election Day and there will be more polling sites, but you MUST vote at the site assigned to voter precinct. You may look up your polling site at www.VoteDenton.gov. Because of our county’s exploding growth, many of the district lines, including voter precincts, have been changed in order to stay within the population limits on these various districts. Not only have the lines changed, but most of the voter precinct numbers have also changed, and so you will want to be sure your new voter precinct number before you look up where it votes! Your new light blue Voter Registration Card also will list your new voter precinct number. If you vote early, you can vote anywhere and our secure voting system can look you up and print the correct ballot for you.
You will likely encounter “electioneering” at many of our polling sites. This educational activity by supporters of the various candidates is allowed and regulated by state law, restricted to beyond the marked 100 feet from the entrance to a polling site. You may be offered some literature by these volunteers, or perhaps you have received some campaign material in the mail; in either case, you may carry campaign literature into the voting booth with you. Just be sure to take it out with you when you have voted. You are NOT allowed to use your cell phone in the voting site, so if you have your choices listed on your phone, it’s best to print that information out before going in and take that printed version with you.
New Voter Registration Cards
By now, you should have received your new light blue voter registration card. It shows the various precincts/districts for your Congressional Representative, State Senator, State Representative, County Commissioner, and Justice of the Peace/Constable. If you have not received your card, please call the Elections Administrations at 940-349-3200. Remember, you will need a photo ID such as driver’s license or passport, again part of election fraud prevention.
This Primary is a busy election with lots of candidates from both political parties. Please take the time to do your research and make an informed decision. Your right to vote is among the most precious of our God-given rights, so be sure to use it in the next few weeks!