Voting during COVID-19
What are alternatives to in-person voting?
As of now, the State of Texas has not implemented specific or expanded methods of voting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have put together some safety-conscious options for eligible voters.
1. Mail-in voting: If you have a disability, are over 65 years old, will be out of the county for early voting and election day, or are confined in jail (but otherwise eligible), you can apply to vote by mail. An election clerk cannot question you about your qualifications to vote. Learn how to apply here.
2. Curbside voting: If you are physically unable to enter the polling place or have symptoms of COVD, you can request that a ballot be brought to your car at the curb. An election clerk cannot question you about your physical inability to enter a polling place. You do not have to apply for this benefit; simply call your polling place.
What safety measures are recommended for in-person voting?
We gathered information from the Center for Disease Control's in-person recommendations. Here is a helpful safety measure checklist.
1. Wash your hands: After leaving your polling place, immediately wash your hands for 20 seconds or use a sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol until you can wash your hands.
2. Stay 6 feet apart: Try to distance yourself by 6 feet from other voters or election clerks.
3. Wear protective gear: Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. The most effective masks include N95, surgical, or cloth masks. Avoid wearing a bandana or neck gaiter as these materials are less effective. In addition to a mask, consider wearing a face shield or goggles to protect your eyes from droplets. Consider wearing gloves while in the polling place and disposing of them when you can safely wash or sanitize your hands.
4. Do not touch your face: Avoid touching your face to prevent the spread of the virus.
FAQ about voting during COVID
1. Do I have to wear a mask to vote?
It depends. If your county or local government has put a mask requirement in place, you will be required to wear a mask at a polling place. However, Texas itself does not require masks at polling places. Masks with political parties or candidates affixed are not allowed to be worn. Masks are highly recommended to be worn at all times when in public.
2. Do I have to remove my mask at the request of an election clerk?
Unfortunately, yes. Election clerks have the discretion to request that a voter temporarily remove a face covering solely for the purpose of verifying a voter's identity. If you refuse to remove your face covering, an election clerk must provide you with a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot does not count as a vote until any voting deficiencies are cured with the county's voter registrar.
3. What if I have COVID or COVID-related symptoms?
In the interest of public health, we recommend those with COVID or COVID-related symptoms apply to vote by mail. However, if you cannot apply to vote by mail, there are other alternatives. Someone with COVID or COVID-related symptoms can request (1) curbside voting, (2) priority voting (i.e. skipping the line when voting in-person), or (3) in-person voting with a face covering. An election clerk cannot prevent you from voting. We recommend that those with COVID symptoms opt for curbside voting to limit exposure to in-person voters.
Questions? Visit 866 Our Vote through the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law at their website or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).