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Election Advisory No. 2020-07

To: County Clerks/Elections Administrators
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Keith Ingram's signature
Date: February 11, 2020
RE: Ballot by Mail Reminders

The purpose of this advisory is to remind county election officials of certain steps that must be taken with respect to the processing and rejection of mail ballots. 

Timing of Processing Mail Ballots

Pursuant to Section 87.0241 of the Texas Election Code, the early voting ballot board may determine whether to accept early voting ballots voted by mail at any time after the ballots are delivered to the board.  (Sec. 87.0241(a)).  The early voting ballot board may begin to count early voting ballots (1) when the polls open on election day; or (2) at the end of the early voting period, in the case of an election conducted by an authority of a county with a population of 100,000 or more or an election conducted jointly with such a county.  (Sec. 87.0241(b)).  

Notice of Rejected Ballot

Section 87.0431 of the Texas Election Code outlines certain requirements for providing a voter with notice of a rejected mail ballot.  If the early voting ballot board rejects a voter’s ballot, the presiding judge of the early voting ballot board must notify the voter in writing of the reason for the rejection.  This notice must be sent to the voter, at the residence address listed on the ballot by mail application, no later than the 10th day after election day.  However, our office recommends mailing notices of rejected ballots to affected voters as soon as possible.  For voters who requested a mail ballot with a Federal Postcard Application (FPCA), and receive their balloting materials via e-mail, the presiding judge shall also provide notice of the rejected ballot to the e-mail address to which the ballot was sent.  

In accordance with Section 87.0431, the Secretary of State has prescribed a form for this purpose (Notice of Rejected Ballot, (PDF)).  We are issuing a revised version of the Notice of Rejected Ballot along with this advisory. The revised notice includes an additional sentence advising the voter: “If you believe that your mail ballot was rejected in error, please contact your early voting clerk to determine what remedies may be available to you.”

Resolution of Incorrect Determination by Early Voting Ballot Board

As a reminder, if a county election officer determines that a ballot was incorrectly rejected or accepted by the early voting ballot board before the time set for convening the canvassing authority, the county election officer may petition a district court for injunctive or other relief as the court determines appropriate.  (Sec. 87.127(a)).

In an election ordered by the governor or the county judge, the county election officer must confer with and establish the agreement of the county chair of each political party before petitioning the district court. (Sec. 87.127(b)).  

Please contact us at 1-800-252-VOTE (8683) or at elections@sos.texas.gov if you have any questions.

KI:CA