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Not everyone will be sending in their mail ballot

I get this.

Samina Mirza had read enough in the news about U.S. Postal Service delays that she decided there was no way she’d trust the mail to deliver her ballot to Harris County election officials on time.

The 70-year-old retired nonprofit staffer had originally planned to drop off her ballot at a location near her home in Katy, until Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation limiting counties to just one drop-off site.

“I wasn’t going to drive 25 miles to downtown Houston to use the dropbox because the nearest one was taken away, so I said ‘OK that’s fine, I’ll take a chance and just vote in person,’” said Mirza, who voted for Democrat Joe Biden for president.

Mirza is one of about 32,000 voters in Harris County and almost 9,600 in Bexar County who had received a mail-in ballot but chose to instead vote in person as of Wednesday — and there’s still a week and a half left of early voting to go. That’s about 13 percent and 9 percent of all voters who received mail ballots in each county, respectively.

About 759,000 Harris County residents had voted early in person by Wednesday and about 115,000 had done so by mail. In Bexar County, about 326,000 had voted in person and about 70,000 by mail.

“Since there are more people voting by mail in general, it does make sense that some people might change their mind for whatever reason and decide to vote in person,” said Roxanne Werner, Harris County spokeswoman. “Some people may have applied months ago, and with news about USPS and general situations changing, they may have decided to vote in person.”

[…]

Some who switched to in-person voting, like Mirza, cited concerns about the reliability of the mail. Others said they felt attached to their habit of in-person voting. Others still felt more reassured about the safety of the polling places with the longer early voting period, and after observing early voting procedures adapted for the pandemic.

The bottom line for all of the voters, though, was that in a high-stakes election that’s drawing record numbers of Texans to the polls, they didn’t want to take a chance that their vote would not count.

Still, it’s putting an extra burden on poll workers who are already stretched thin handling high turnout and trying to manage wait times that increase potential exposure to the virus.

Well, yes. That was one of the reasons why election administrators were encouraging people to vote by mail in the first place. Not that any of our fake fraud-obsessed Republican leaders cared. Had Harris and other counties been allowed to have more than one mail ballot dropoff location, that would have also worked. But as someone once said, it is what it is. At least these folks will still be voting – as we have observed, the harder the Republicans have made it to vote, the more determined everyone seems to be. Shouldn’t have to be this way, and someday we will make it better, but for now this is where we are.

If you received a mail ballot – not just an application, but an actual mail ballot – you must bring it with you and turn it in if you decide to vote in person. Your vote will be provisional otherwise. No big deal, people do this, just bring it with you. Or fill it out and mail it in (quickly!) or drop it off. Just make sure you vote.

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6 Comments

  1. brad says:

    I had received a mail-in ballot, but didn’t want to use it for concern on USPS, general accidental mishandling upon arrival, or nefarious GOP ballot board shenanigans.

    I voted early, but cancelled my mail-in ballot at the early cvoting location with the election judge although I didn’t have the mail-in ballot in hand. I had to sign a document indicating that the mail-in ballot wouldn’t be used.

    I can see on the HarrisVotes.com website that my mail-in ballot was cancelled, although they used the word “rejected”.

    The use of the term “provisional” vote is a little weird since I was actually able to vote in-person, yet provisional suggests that there is an action item still necessary after a provisional vote in this instance.

    Yet, with all that said Kuff is still right. Take in the mail-in ballot to help ensure smoother process.

  2. voter_worker says:

    Brad, provisional ballots are reviewed individually after Election Day. Depending on the number of provisional ballots it can take over a week to review all of them. I mailed my ballot and the USPS got it to the County Clerk in 4 days.

  3. voter_worker says:

    To be more specific, the Affidavit of Provisional Voter is the document reviewed, not the ballot itself.

  4. Mainstream says:

    Brad, there is no “GOP ballot board” in Harris County which could engage in nefarious shenanigans. The election process in this county is firmly under the control of Democrats, and has been for several cycles. You may recall that there was some allegedly nefarious Democrat activity, including allowing a vote to be added after the polls were closed on Feb. 22 during the primary, loading the wrong database into the county’s electronic poll books, etc. And even the Houston Chronicle described the Democrat administration of elections in Nov. 2019 as an “Election Night debacle.” Even under the new administration of Chris Hollins there have been glitches, including publishing completely mismatched polling places for election day in an early notice posted in the Houston Chronicle, later corrected. Mistakes will be made, but I don’t accept that everyone working to keep elections honest has some “nefarious” intent just because they are from the other party.

  5. brad says:

    Mainstream,

    In Harris County, “ballot boards” are made up of members of the the major parties.

    My comment is about the GOP counterpart to each and every ballot board team comprised of both a Rep and Dem.

    It is an undeniable fact that the GOP at every level (national, state, county, municipal) is engaged in voter suppression. If Texas becomes a battleground state this election, which polling suggests is a possibility, and our state is doing a Florida 2000 do-over, I didn’t want a red hot, nut job, hyper partisan with a magnifying glass trying to reject my ballot because my ascender or descender on my signature didn’t match what I may have signed previously.

    Regarding your comment about the “Election Night Debacle”, you fail to mention the last minute restrictions imposed by the GOP Secretary of State on the transmission of precinct level tallies to the County Clerk was the reason there was a delay of the interim and final results from the County Clerk’s office. There was no debacle, but simply a delay in publishing of results. In this country we are a bunch of spoiled brats who demand it yesterday and any minor inconvenience is magnified into a “debacle”.

  6. Jen says:

    The thing about signatures is an anachronism anyway. Oldsters remember writing checks for everything, and signing them, but hardly anyone signs things by hand anymore, so signatures are rarely practiced and more likely to vary from one instance to the next.