Travis County reports near-record number of mail-in ballot applications ahead of local primary runoff
The Travis County Elections Division received over 28,000 applications for mail-in ballots for local primary runoff elections—thousands more than usual and approaching the record set in the 2016 general election.
The July 14 election includes the Democratic primary runoff for district attorney and a special election for Texas Senate District 14.
The county typically receives around 1,000 to 2,000 mail-in ballot applications for primary runoff elections, which have historically low turnout. To respond to the surge in applications, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir added temporary staff and additional scanning equipment.
As of last Friday, more than 17,000 mail-in ballots had been sent to voters.
Travis County residents have until July 2 to apply for a mail-in ballot for the upcoming primary runoff election.
Texas only allows mail-in ballots in specific, limited cases: for those over 65, with a disability, out of town during an election, or in jail.
The right to vote by mail has been a topic of debate lately, as efforts to expand the practice in Texas in light of the coronavirus have made their way to the Texas Supreme Court and the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Most recently, a federal judge extended an order blocking a lower court ruling that would have allowed for more widespread mail-in voting in Texas.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled last month that fear of the coronavirus or lack of immunity does not qualify as a disability or reason to apply for a mail-in ballot.
Most Americans support mail-in voting expansion. According to a national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 70% of Americans favor allowing any voter to vote by mail, and two-thirds said it is likely the presidential election will be disrupted by the pandemic.
In a poll of Austonia readers, 85% said universal mail-in voting should be allowed in Texas this November.
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