Elections

Texans: Voting by mail? Hurry up. The deadline to get that ballot is Friday

How to use an early voting machine

Here is a short lesson in how to use the electronic voting machines used in the Tarrant County early voting locations. A former election administrator explains the system. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)
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Here is a short lesson in how to use the electronic voting machines used in the Tarrant County early voting locations. A former election administrator explains the system. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)

The clock is ticking on Texans who want to vote by mail.

As record early voting locally and statewide and frenzied campaigning continue, the deadline to request such a ballot — which enables overseas residents, people in the military, the disabled and senior citizens to make their vote count — is by the end of business Friday.

“We need to ensure that all Texas residents who qualify have the necessary information to receive their ballot,” Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos said.

In the first three days of early voting, nearly 1.4 million Texans in the state’s 15 largest counties — including more than 154,000 Tarrant County residents — voted in person and by mail, according to the most recent state election records.

That compares with 930,129 Texans who voted during the same time in 2012 and 865,106 in 2008. They included 110,338 Tarrant County voters in 2016 and 87,172 in 2008, election records show.

Some people are still worried about early voting machines in some parts of the state including Tarrant County, after a voter complained about trying to cast a straight-party Republican vote that flipped in the presidential race to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

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The complaint, which was resolved before the ballot was cast, became the talk of social media after the problem was described on Facebook.

GOP nominee Donald Trump weighed in on the issue, tweeting Thursday that there have been “A lot of call-ins about vote flipping at the voting booths in Texas. People are not happy. BIG lines. What is going on?”

Election officials have asked voters to go slow and steady when voting on early voting machines, to avoid mistakes.

Tarrant County Elections Admininistrator Frank Phillips said his office has investigated complaints regarding machines believed to malfunction. None of the investigations has shown machines working improperly.

State officials have also said they haven’t found a verified report of anyone’s votes being switched by a malfunctioning machine.

Looming deadline

Applications for mail-in ballots may be downloaded and returned to county election officials by fax, mail or email.

By early Thursday, Tarrant County had received more than 41,000 requests for ballots by mail, topping the number of requests in the past two presidential elections.

In 2012, 39,272 such requests were received locally, and there were 35,452 requests in 2008.

Early voting runs through Nov. 4. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Early voting runs through Nov. 4. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Anyone who has requested a mail-in ballot and has not received it should call their local election officials to check on its status, Cascos said.

Local voters may call the Tarrant County Elections Office at 817-831-8683. Voters across the state may call the Secretary of State’s Office at 1-800-252-VOTE.

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If your request for a ballot by mail comes in after the deadline, you can still vote.

Just not by mail, Phillips said.

“If we receive it too late, we send them a rejection letter,” he said. “We include an early votign schedule and information about their Election Day polling site so they know where they can vote.”

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

Two weeks before the presidential election, the Star Telegram asks first-time voters at Tarrant County College and long-time voters at the Hurst Senior Center who they are voting for on Nov. 8.

Early voting began Monday, with large crowds at many of the precincts, Democratic and Republican candidate's supporters voicing their opinion's before and after their votes.

Election information

To see a sample ballot, go to the Tarrant County elections website.

For information about candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot, go to the Star-Telegram website, www.star-telegram.com, to read the online Voters Guide.

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