You’ve got mail: Absentee voting explained

Photo illustration by Olivia Havre | Photographer

By Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer

Autumn has ushered in the season of pumpkin spice, sweater weather and campaign ads. With midterm elections around the corner and the end in sight for Texas’ gubernatorial race, McLennan County elections administrator Jared Goldsmith said students should consider their voting options sooner rather than later.

For the Nov. 8 election, the deadline to request an absentee ballot from one’s home county is 5 p.m. on Oct. 28.

Should a student prefer to vote in McLennan County, they must make the county their permanent residence by Oct. 11; this is also the deadline to register to vote.

College Democrats of Baylor will be hosting voter registration tables at dining halls on campus next week. Several members of the organization are volunteer deputy registrars, meaning they’re authorized by the state of Texas to handle and submit voter registration applications for others. Students 18 and older and those who will turn 18 before election day are eligible to register.

Goldsmith said McLennan County will begin sending mail-in ballots to voters by the end of this week.

“We’ll be mailing ballots out until the very end of the election,” Goldsmith said. “But the sooner the better, and right now, there is still plenty of time.”

Mail-in ballots have been known to cause confusion. East Cobb, Ga., senior and president of College Democrats of Baylor Peyton Lamb said he believes voting is needlessly difficult in Texas. For instance, the state does not allow voter registration online; it must be done by mail or in person. Further, Lamb said the applications both to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot can be time-consuming and difficult to understand.

However, according to Goldsmith, as long as voters follow directions on all forms and send their application and the ballot on time, their vote will be counted. He said there is no foundation for concerns that may arise from claims of fraud in the 2020 election. He also said he encourages students to be involved, which includes voting by mail.

“Any ballots that we receive on time, as long as they follow all the directions, we absolutely count ballots that are received through the mail here in McLennan County,” Goldsmith said.

Lamb said he feels many college students take for granted the impact politics has on their lives. He said voting is one way to enact control of that.

“The outcome of these elections are going to have a tremendous impact on the lives of everyone in the state over the next four years,” Lamb said. “I hear a lot of people talk about how they don’t feel like politics impact them, and that’s simply not true … I think it’s important that students are informed and are making those educated decisions.”

Maumelle, Ark., junior Joy Moore said she considers herself to be a conservative-leaning moderate. Having voted absentee in the 2020 presidential election, Moore said she will be voting by mail again in these midterms.

“My state had me attach maybe three or four documents in my envelope,” Moore said. “It was a little overcomplicated in some ways — in the sense of worrying that if I got one thing wrong, that I won’t get counted … I sat in the SUB and bubbled in who I wanted to vote for for president, which was weird.”

Moore said the ability to track her vote gave her some comfort in the process.

“That way, it felt like ‘OK, somebody’s keeping track if my vote even made it back,’” Moore said. “I know there’s soldiers abroad who have to vote absentee, and there’s a lot of regulations there. So even just being one state away from my home state, it didn’t feel corrupted at all.”

Any questions a voter may have about the voting and counting process can be directed to the McLennan County Elections Administration Office or the elections department in their home county.

Emma Weidmann
Emma Weidmann is a junior English major from San Antonio, with minors in News-Editorial and French. She loves writing about new albums and listening to live music. After graduating, she hopes to work as an arts and culture reporter.