The Early Ballot Voting Board starts working on October 22nd. This is the more time-consuming step. Our Democratic Party County Chair explains the process below. (Emphasis was added to one sentence.) The output of this step comprises stacks of ballots ready to be fed into the scanners.
TO ALL HAYS COUNTY VOTERS:
Having been a volunteer who’s served the last 4 years on the Early Voting Ballot Board( EVBB), I’d like to allay the fears of mail-in ballot voters about the processing of these ballots.
1. After you’ve voted, place your ballot in the white envelope & seal it. Place it in the yellow envelope, seal it and put a stamp on it. SIGN YOUR NAME ON THE BACK OF THE ENVELOPE. Don’t worry that it’s the same exact signature as is on your mail ballot application. We look for similarities; we are NOT looking to disqualify your ballot because of the signature. We know signatures can change over several months since you applied, perhaps.
Mail your ballot. OR bring it to the Elections Office and turn it in after you’ve shown your i.d.
2. If you’ve mailed it at the post office, wait a couple of days, go onto the HC Elections website, find the list of all whose ballots have been received, scan until you see your name.
Meanwhile, the Signature Verification process has begun by the EVBB. If for some reason your ballot signature in no way matches the signatures from applications we have on file, the ballot is returned with a note saying the signature did not match. Usually there’s a simple explanation: maybe the wife of the voter signed his name. That can be fixed, ballot returned and counted. We find very few ballots whose signatures cannot be verified! The more common problem is failure to sign the outer envelope. The ballot is returned to sender for signature, returned to Elections Office, then processed. And, NO, we do NOT call/ notify every voter that their signature is verified! If you do not receive the ballot back to be corrected, you know it was accepted as is.
After we verify signatures on the majority of ballots we’ve received ( although this process is ongoing as ballots are received ) we start the process of opening the envelopes and separating the white envelopes from the yellow ones, but never at the same time. It is a SECRET BALLOT, so the yellow envelopes are separated into a big box( not discarded ) and then we start opening the white envelopes containing the ballots. We make sure to smooth them out so they will go through the scanner, glance at the marks to make sure they can be read by the scanner, and turn all the ballots the same way. The ballots are then sent to the technicians to begin the scanning process. The EVBB does not do the scanning. The results of the scanning are not known by anyone because the mail ballots are not TABULATED until Election Night when the other returns come in from the polling sites.
Some other notations: all Ballot Board members raise our right hands and swear an oath to uphold the integrity of the election process. We work in pairs; and for the General Election, the pair is a Dem and an R; two pairs of eyes on all we do. We are honest.
We will wear masks, use sanitizers, and socially distance as much as possible.
In four years, I’ve never seen any Election improprieties; we work hard, respect each other and the process, and we will get all the mail ballots done in time for Election Night! Yes, overseas and military ballots may come in a few days later and a smaller contingency will meet to process them and also deal with any Provisional ballots that will be counted if eligible.
Remember, the election is NOT final until 7 days after, and it is certified by the Elections Administrator and signed and certified by the Chairs of the Political Parties with the TX Secretary of State’s Office.
Folks, trust the process. No matter what you hear and fear, all ballots will be handled fairly and efficiently and properly. We NEVER throw away a ballot.
This is our civic duty-to make our voices heard through the elections process. It works. JUST DO IT. VOTE!
Chair, Hays Co. Democratic Party