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SOS 101: Voting by Mail in Texas

October 12, 2022
Contact: Sam Taylor

AUSTIN — Texas Secretary of State John Scott today released the third installment of 'SOS 101,' a series of educational videos on the voting process in Texas ahead of the November 8, 2022 General Election. In the new video, Secretary Scott provides an overview of voting by mail in Texas, including who is eligible to cast a ballot by mail, ID requirements for voting by mail, and how county officials work to protect the security and integrity of mail ballots cast in an election. Secretary Scott also visits with Parker County Elections Administrator Crickett Miller, who provides a step-by-step account of the mail ballot process at the county level and offers helpful tips for Texas mail voters.

Texas voters who are eligible to vote by mail must provide: (1) a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)-issued Texas Driver License, Personal ID or Election ID Certificate number; OR (2) the last 4 digits of their Social Security Number on both their Application for a Ballot by Mail (ABBM) and mail ballot carrier envelope. As long as one of the ID numbers provided matches what is on the voter's registration record, the voter's ABBM and ballot can be accepted.

"Remember, if you're eligible and planning to vote by mail, you must make sure your Application for a Ballot by Mail is received by Friday, October 28th at your county Early Voting Clerk's office," Secretary Scott says in the video.

"Please take the time to read the instructions your county gives you carefully before putting your ballot in the mail. Don't forget to provide an ID number, under the flap of the carrier envelope, to protect the security of your personal information."

"When in doubt, fill both out," Elections Administrator Crickett Miller recommends in the video.

"In case you don't remember which number is on your voter registration record, we can use either."

To watch the full SOS 101 video on voting by mail in Texas, click here or on the image below.

SOS 101: Voting by Mail in Texas covers the following key topics:

1. Eligibility Requirements for Voting by Mail

To vote by mail in Texas, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • 65 years of age or older on Election Day;
  • Disabled;
  • Expecting to give birth within three weeks before or after Election Day;
  • Absent from the county of registration during the Early Voting period and on Election Day;
  • Civilly committed under Chapter 841 of the Texas Health and Safety Code; OR
  • Confined in jail, but otherwise eligible.

2. Completing and Submitting an Application for Ballot by Mail (ABBM)

If you're eligible to vote by mail, you can obtain an Application for a Ballot by Mail (ABBM) by:

On the ABBM, you must provide AT LEAST ONE of the following in the space provided:

  • Texas Driver’s License, Texas Personal Identification Number or Election Identification Certificate number issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (NOT your voter registration VUID number); OR
  • The last 4 digits of your Social Security Number

If you have not been issued any of these IDs, you must indicate so by checking the appropriate box on the ABBM:

Your ABBM must be sent to the Early Voting Clerk in the county where you are registered to vote. Applications must be received (not postmarked) by last day of the application period.

For the November 8, 2022 General Election, the last day your ABBM can be received by your Early Voting Clerk is Friday, October 28th, 2022.

You may send in your application for a ballot by mail to the Early Voting Clerk by:

  • In-person delivery;
  • Regular mail;
  • Common or contract carrier; or
  • Fax (if a fax machine is available to the Early Voting Clerk)*
  • Email (send a signed, scanned application as an attachment to an email to the early voting clerk)*

*If you are submitting your application for ballot by mail (ABBM) by fax or email, the original, hard copy of the application MUST be mailed and received by the early voting clerk no later than the 4th business day after it was originally submitted.

View a list of Early Voting Clerk addresses and contact information in each Texas county.

3. Completing and Submitting your Mail-in Ballot

Once you receive your mail-in ballot, carefully review each choice in each race or proposition to be voted on, and mark your choices in accordance with the instructions on the ballot envelope.

After your mark your ballot, place your voted ballot in the envelope marked "BALLOT ENVELOPE" and seal the ballot envelope. This ballot envelope protects the secrecy of your ballot.

Next, place the ballot envelope in the carrier envelope (PDF).BEFORE SEALING THE CARRIER ENVELOPE, YOU MUST INCLUDE IN THE SPACE PROVIDED (PDF):

  1. The number of your Driver License, Personal ID card, or Election Identification Certificate (EIC) issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS);
  2. The last 4 digits of your social security number; OR
  3. A statement that you have not been issued a number described by (1) or (2) above.

Next, seal the carrier envelope, sign the carrier envelope in the space provided, and return your carrier envelope to your county's Early Voting Clerk either by mail, by common or contract carrier, or in person on Election Day at your county’s early voting clerk’s office.

View a list of Early Voting Clerk addresses and contact information in each Texas county.

Deadlines for Returning a Voted Mail-in Ballot

The Early Voting Clerk must receive your voted ballot by:

  • 7 p.m. on Election Day (Tuesday, November 8th);
  • 5:00 p.m. on the first business day after Election Day (Wednesday, November 9th) if the ballot was postmarked by Election Day; OR
  • For military voters and U.S. citizens overseas, the 5th day after Election Day. In the upcoming General Election, the 5th day after Election Day falls on a Sunday, so the deadline rolls over to Monday, November 14th.

You may return your marked ballot in person to your Early Voting Clerk only while the polls are open on Election Day. If you choose to return your ballot in person on Election Day, it must be received by an election official, you must present an acceptable form of ID, and the election official must record your name, signature and type of ID used in a roster that the official must attest to.

4. Track Your ABBM, Mail-in Ballot and Certify ID Information

Once you’ve sent your ballot by mail to your county’s Early Voting Clerk, you can check the status of your mail-in ballot through our Ballot by Mail Tracker, available on the Texas Secretary of State’s ‘My Voter Portal.’ You can also use this portal to verify where your ABBM is in the process, and whether your mail-in ballot has been sent by your county Early Voting Clerk.

To track your ABBM and mail-in ballot, you must enter the following information:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Date of Birth
  • The last 4 digits of your Social Security Number
  • Your Driver’s License or Department of Public Safety Personal ID number
  • Your residential address (must appear exactly as listed on your voter registration record. To look up the address listed on your voter registration record, use the ‘Am I Registered?’ tool)
  • City
  • ZIP code

Click Here to Access the SOS Ballot by Mail Tracker

How to Correct a Defect on your ABBM or Carrier Envelope

If you received a notice that your ABBM (PDF) or Carrier Envelope (PDF) was rejected because you did not provide an identification number or the number you provided did not match one of the numbers associated with your voter registration record, you may correct the defect online through the Texas Secretary of State's Ballot by Mail Tracker.

When you log in to the Ballot by Mail Tracker, you will be prompted to enter your personal identification numbers. Once your personal identification numbers are validated by the Ballot by Mail Tracker, the ABBM or carrier envelope you previously submitted will be processed.

You have until the 6th day after Election Day to correct a defect on your mail ballot carrier envelope, if necessary.

If you have more specific questions about your voter registration record or the status of your ABBM or mail ballot, you should contact your county elections office.

5. The Early Voting Ballot Board

Each Texas county has an Early Voting Ballot Board (EVBB), composed of appointees from all political parties. The EVBB is responsible for reviewing mail-in ballots to ensure they comply with the Texas Election Code before they can be included in the vote count.

The EVBB consists of:

  • a presiding judge;
  • an alternate judge; and
  • at least one other member.

Each county chair of a political party with nominees on the general election ballot is required to submit a list of names, in order of the chair's preference, of people eligible to serve on the EVBB. The county election board must appoint at least one person from each list to serve as a member of the EVBB.

The EVBB convenes before Election Day and continues working through the deadline for mail ballots arriving from military members and U.S. citizens overseas. The board is responsible for qualifying and processing:

  • Regular ballots by mail;
  • Late-arriving ballots from military members and U.S. citizens overseas; and
  • Provisional ballots

Learn more about the duties of the Early Voting Ballot Board (EVBB). (PDF)

Learn more about voting by mail in Texas.