Elections

Waiting for a mail-in ballot from Tarrant County? You’re not alone. Here’s why

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Republican Senator Ted Cruz and his challenger, Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke both greeted supporters in Houston on October 28, 2018. The Texas Senate race is one of the most closely watched in the U.S.
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Republican Senator Ted Cruz and his challenger, Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke both greeted supporters in Houston on October 28, 2018. The Texas Senate race is one of the most closely watched in the U.S.

If you asked for a mail-in ballot, but haven’t received it yet, just wait.

Nearly 3,000 ballots for Tarrant County voters were mailed between Friday and Monday, election administrator Heider Garcia said Monday.

Garcia said there was a delay in some ballots being sent to voters because an avalanche of voter registration applications came in at the last minute. Many went to the state first and then were forwarded to the Tarrant County Elections Office.

As a result, some elections staffers were shifted to help process those registration applications, which built up a small backlog of mail-in ballot applications.

Batches of ballots were mailed Friday, Saturday and Monday, Garcia said.

“Ballots should be in their hands in two or three days,” he said. “That gives them time to mail them back Friday or Saturday, which puts them in our hands Monday or Tuesday.”

“Everything received by Election Day will be in the Election Night count,” he said, noting that ballots postmarked by Nov. 6 will be added to the final tally.

Garcia said he has heard from voters who are worried about having enough time to cast their ballot by mail.

“They are concerned about not receiving the ballot,” he said. “But if they get them this week, they have time to mail them back.”

Waiting for ballots

Darl Easton, chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party, said he had received at least two calls from GOP voters worried they had not received their mail-in ballots. In the case of one 80-year-old voter, Easton personally took her to the polls so she could vote in person.

Easton, who has served as an election judge, said some voters worry they won’t get their ballots until after Election Day. He said he tells voters the ballots have to be postmarked Nov. 6 or earlier and a worst-case scenario means the votes will be counted during the official canvass that happens after Election Day.

Deborah Peoples, who heads the Tarrant County Democratic Party, also said she has received calls from several people, including a college student in Massachusetts, about mail-in ballots.

She is encouraged by the crush of applications for mail-in ballots, saying that shows large voter interest.

Meanwhile, Madeline Glenn is among the voters waiting for ballots to show up at their homes.

Glenn, 26, lives in San Diego and she hopes her ballot will show up in the mail by Thursday or Friday.

She is worried that she and others won’t have enough time to mark their choices and get their ballots back to Tarrant County for the final tallies. She said getting her vote in is important this election cycle. She and other Texans in California have been working phone banks to reach potential voters in Texas.

“It is really important because it is one of the main ways that we get to have a say in what happens in our country,” said Glenn, who graduated from Colleyville Heritage High School in 2010 and has voted by mail in several elections, including once from the Netherlands.

This year, she sent her application for a mail-ballot for the Texas midterm elections three weeks ago. But she started to worry on Friday because it was the deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot.

Midterm voting

She began calling the Tarrant County Elections Office and learned it hadn’t received her application. She sent a backup electronically, but was told the county needs her original to process her request. She also learned the county was dealing with a backlog.

Glenn said she called again on Saturday morning and found out the county had worked until midnight to process applications, including hers.

“I’m really happy to hear that they stayed there until midnight,” Glenn said.

Now, Glenn is worried about how quickly she can get her ballot back to Tarrant County.

She said she might pay extra for expedited mail delivery. And while she said she has some options, others may not have the same flexibility.

Election officials urge anyone worried about their ballot to call the Tarrant County Elections Center at 817-831-8683.

Workers there can tell if your ballot has been processed and mailed. But there’s always the option of voting early in person or on Election Day.

Garcia said any voter who chooses to do that may and the elections office will simply void out that mail-in ballot.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

Tarrant County, the largest remaining urban area that’s Republican, has long been considered a bellwether in Texas elections, predicting how the state will go. Music: "Enby" by Loyalty Freak Music.

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