Decision 2020

NBC 5 Responds: What Are Your Options If You Get COVID-19 and Want to Vote?

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The deadline to request a ballot by mail is Friday, Oct. 23, but what are your options if you contract COVID-19 after that deadline and it’s too late to vote by mail?

Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said you don’t have to stay home.

“There is curbside voting available, I would advise that those folks utilize that option,” Taneja said. “We certainly encourage them to go vote.”

Texas law allows curbside voting for people who can’t physically go into a polling place without assistance or injuring their health.

Tarrant County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia explained that applies to a voter who has coronavirus, the symptoms or may be isolating because of possible exposure.

“We’ll bring the equipment out to you, everybody is going to be in their PPE, they will clean the machine,” Garcia said.

Garcia said it’s a way to accommodate a voter while limiting exposure to others in a polling location.

Voters can pull into marked curbside voting spots and follow instructions on the signage to push a button to alert a worker you need help.

He encouraged voters to wear a mask and be patient – the curbside process can take longer as poll workers go through multiple steps to check a voter ID then bring out voting equipment.

If a voter is too unwell to vote curbside, they can request an emergency ballot under the rules outlined here.

Voters can fill out an application for an emergency voting ballot due to sickness or physical disability. A doctor has to sign it to certify the voter has a condition that prevents the voter from going to the polls.

According to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, the voter has to designate a representative to put in the application to the county elections office. The application must be in before 5 p.m. on Election Day and the representative must turn in the completed ballot before 7 p.m. on Election Day. The same representative has to commit to making both trips to the election office.

For voters who are healthy, Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang said voters should take advantage of early voting. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott extended early voting by six days this election because of COVID-19.

“Everyone should really take advantage of early voting. We know Election Day has huge crowds,” Huang said. “Spread it out.”

There is still time to request a ballot by mail. There are four reasons a voter may qualify: the voter is 65 years old or older, confined in jail but still eligible to vote, out of town during the election period or sick or disabled.

Texas has not expanded voting by mail during the pandemic. Courts have said that lack of immunity to COVID-19 is not enough reason alone to check the disability/illness box on the vote by mail ballot application. It can, however, be taken into account with the voter’s overall health.

Unlike an emergency ballot, the ballot by mail application does not require proof of a disability or illness. You can find information about applying for a ballot by mail here.

The vote by mail application must be received, not just postmarked, by your county election office by Friday, Oct. 23. You can find contact information by county here.

Read curbside voting information from Dallas County here.

Collin County’s curbside voting information can be found here.

Denton County recommends calling ahead to curbside vote.

For curbside voting information in Ellis County, click here.

For Kaufman County information, click here and scroll down to the note for voters in need of curbside voting.

Rockwall County says signs will be posted at every polling location with more information on curbside assistance.

In Parker County, polling locations offering curbside voting are highlighted on this page.

In Johnson County, curbside voting is available at all polling locations.

In Erath County, the Graham Street Church of Christ Family Center will offer curbside voting assistance.

Somerville County curbside voting information can be found here.


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