How Brazos County mail-in ballots are secured, verified
The Texas Supreme Court has blocked the expansion of mail-in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Texas Tribune. The court ruled that a lack of immunity to the coronavirus does not qualify a voter to receive a mail-in ballot.
The debate began when some politicians and voting rights advocates say that upcoming elections pose a risk, particularly to those most susceptible.
On the other side of the debate, others said that widespread mail-in voting could lead to instances of voter fraud.
“It is a concern,” said Brazos County Elections Administrator Trudy Hancock on First News at Four. “We want to be sure that we have the highest integrity in our elections.”
Hancock says it is her team’s number-one priority to secure every vote, including those that come in the mail. If more mail-in votes than expected had come in, she says her office would have struggled to keep up.
“Logistically there is a lot that goes into mail-in ballot processing; I currently only have one clerk that handles that,” said Hancock. “It would be quite difficult for us, especially if it was mandated that we had to send one to everyone. We have 117,000 voters so that would be quite an undertaking, not just in processing those ballots but also having the supplies and being able to get all of that paperwork handled in the proper manner.”
Hancock explains that the singular way ballots are confirmed to have been cast by the assigned voter is a signature. The signature on the ballot’s envelope must by “reasonably similar” to the signature on the vote-by-mail application itself, a determination made by the Early Voting Ballot Board.
“There’s always the thought process that maybe not the same person filled out the application as filled out the ballot or someone fills out their ballot for someone who’s elderly and votes that ballot for them,” said Hancock. “So sometimes it’s not just comparing those signatures but being sure that that person is the person that qualified.”
Hancock says that all ballots, once received, are kept in a lockbox until processing begins.
Qualifications for mail-in voting are as follows:
- You are 65 years old or older
- You have a disability
- You will be out of the county on Election and during the entirety of the in-person early voting
- You are incarcerated but otherwise eligible to vote
For the full conversation with Hancock, see the video player above.