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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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DeBeauvoir: More than 25,000 ballots in the mail
Tuesday, June 16, 2020 by Jo Clifton
If you are one of more than 25,000 Travis County registered voters who requested to vote by mail in the July 14 primary runoff and special election, your ballot is likely on its way to you. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir told the Austin Monitor that her staff has been working hard to process those applications and that a large batch, if not all of them, were sent out Monday night.
According to DeBeauvoir, between 1,000 and 2,000 people usually request to vote by mail in a party primary runoff election. This election, however, includes not only runoffs for Democratic nominees for Travis County District Attorney, Travis County Attorney and Travis County Commissioner Precinct 3, but also the selection of a new District 14 senator to fill the seat vacated by Kirk Watson.
Other races on the ballot include a runoff between Mike Siegel and Pritesh Gandhi for the Democratic nomination for Texas’ 10th Congressional District, a seat currently held by Republican Michael McCaul. And David Jaramillo and Rick Kennedy are vying for the Democratic nomination for Congress in District 17, a seat currently held by Republican Bill Flores. Voters will also have a chance to cast ballots in the race between Margaret Chen Kercher and Dimple Malhotra for judge of Travis County Court at Law No. 4. There is also a runoff for the Democratic nomination for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission. The Republican nominee, Jim Wright, defeated the incumbent, Ryan Sitton, while Chrysta Castañeda and Roberto Alonzo hope to win the primary so they can face Wright in November.
The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is July 2, and the County Clerk’s Office must receive the request by that date. DeBeauvoir said she believes the lion’s share of those requesting mail-in ballots were over the age of 65. She did not have the exact numbers, but said her staff has written a new computer program to figure that out.
Although many people sent in ballot requests weeks ago, DeBeauvoir’s office was not able to respond quickly because the ballot had not yet been set.
The County Clerk’s Office must receive the ballots on or before election day in order to be counted; simply having a postmark showing that the ballot was sent by that date is insufficient. In addition to the U.S. Postal Service, voters may send their ballots via FedEx or UPS.
DeBeauvoir explained that voters who decide to vote in person instead of by mail may take their ballot to the polling place to be marked “spoiled,” and they will then be allowed to vote. Vote-by-mail voters who have lost their ballot will be able to cast a provisional ballot.
There will be 20 early voting locations and 100 vote centers on election day. DeBeauvoir has nearly completed recruiting poll workers for early voting, which runs from Monday, June 29, through Friday, July 10, with the exception of closures on July 3 and 4 for the holiday.
While in the past, Travis County has been able to use grocery stores as early voting locations, that will not be possible this year because of the pandemic.
DeBeauvoir was happy to announce that the Toney Burger Center at 3200 Jones Road in South Austin will serve as a polling location this time. “Up north we still have Ben Hur,” she said, referring to the Shrine Temple on Rockwood Lane. In addition, voters will also be able to cast ballots at the GAMA Event Center on Research Boulevard.
DeBeauvoir and her staff are doing everything they can to ensure that poll workers remain safe. They will have personal protective equipment, including masks, and there will be hand sanitizer at each polling location. Voters will be required to wear masks in order to vote. “If they object they will still get to vote, but we’re going to put them as far away from other voters as we possibly can,” she said.
DeBeauvoir has served as Travis County clerk since 1987, and she has advice for those who vote in person. Most importantly, remember that it will be hot, so show up early and carry an umbrella to shade yourself from the sun. That applies to people who vote during the early voting period as well as those who vote on election day.
Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.
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