The heavy voter turnout expected in November presents many challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic may make some voters hesitant to go out in crowds, and some older citizens who usually work at the polls may decide to decide not to work this year. The Ballot by Mail (BBM) option may be an option for those who qualify, but that process could also be slowed down by current operational changes at the postal service, such as budget cuts that have ended overtime work.
What voters can do is take advantage of opportunities to cast their ballots as early as possible, whether by Early Voting or Ballot by Mail (BBM), if they qualify for that. Important voting information and dates are as follows:
- HarrisVotes.com–This excellent website for the County Clerk’s office has all the information you will need for voting. Phone: 713-755-6965.
- Early Voting Period–October 13-30 at all polling places in the county.
- Ballot by Mail (BBM)—Applications must be received no later than October 23. They must be received back to the County Clerk’s office by no later than November 3.
- Election Day—November 3.
AAUW has long been committed to open and free elections, nonpartisan voter education, and the expansion of voting rights. In 1965 Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, but in 2013 the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder removed some of the restrictions that had kept voter suppression in check. The House in 2019 passed legislation to counteract the restrictions, and in July 2020 the legislation was passed unanimously by the House and renamed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, H.R. 4/S. 4263. It has not been passed yet in the Senate. AAUW has joined 155 other organizations to urge the Senate to approve it. On the AAUW website there is a link with a letter to our two Texas senators urging them to work for its passage. (email@example.com)
Ballots by Mail (BBM) is the same thing as an absentee ballot, but it has received criticism by some politicians who say it leads to voter fraud. In some states all voters vote by mail, but not in Texas. The voter must meet any one of four qualifications for BBM. The voter must:
- Be 65 or older.
- Have a disability.
- Be absent from the county.
- Be confined in jail but eligible to vote.
Detailed instructions are available from the County Clerk’s office for BBM. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully to avoid having your completed ballot sent back. Be sure to sign the mailing envelope on the flap with the name you use for voter registration as directed. Remember to vote as early as you can! ~ Nancy Bowden