The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Relocated students face voting hurdles, mail-in options

Relocated students face voting hurdles, mail-in options - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Communication freshman Lanie Perez studies outdoors Oct. 6, 2020 in Corpus Christi. Students displaced because of the coronavirus pandemic must decide where and how to vote. Courtesy photo by the Perez family

Click here to access the Mesquite’s mail-in ballot guide

 

When communication sophomore Lanie Perez first registered to vote last fall during an event at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, the dorm resident expected voting to be as easy as just being on campus in November. 

But the coronavirus changed those plans, and Perez, 19, unexpectedly found herself living back at home in Corpus Christi, virtually attending school and searching for the best way to cast her vote.

“I’m kind of leaning towards just driving to TAMUSA and getting my voting done there,” Perez said of the 142-mile trek to campus, which will have a polling place on Election Day Nov. 3.

She is not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, due to COVID-19, America has seen a record increase in young adults ages 18 to 29 living with their parents. Data says that in February there was an increase from 24 million living with their parents to 26.6 million. Numbers like that haven’t been seen since the Great Depression, with 2.1 million — or 80.8 percent — of the 2.6 million increase being 18- to 24-years-old, the typical college student age range.  

How will those young adults vote if they are registered in different counties ? Like Perez, others have also been struggling to figure this out.

According to Stephen Chang, director of communications for the Texas Secretary of State, students in that situation can either:

  • re-register in their parents’ home county if the deadline has not passed, or
  • apply for a mail-in ballot from Bexar County

However, students cannot register in two counties at once, Chang said.

The deadline to register or re-register to vote in Bexar County — and throughout Texas — passed Oct. 5. Some states have later registration deadlines. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot in Bexar County is Oct. 23.

In July, a group of Democratic U.S. legislators proposed the National Emergency Student Vote Act to aid students displaced by the pandemic. The bill would help students register to vote, cast ballots and request absentee ballots. It was referred to the committee of Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in July and no further action has been taken, according to congress.gov. 

“The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and we must ensure that young people can exercise that right in November,” U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, one of the four U.S. senators and one U.S. representative who introduced the bill, said in a press release July 23 on klobuchar.senate.gov. 

Searching for her way to vote and with encouragement from peers, Perez made a call to the courthouse that informed her that in order to vote in Corpus Christi she would need to register in Nueces County.  

Already planning to move to San Antonio her junior year, Perez decided it would be easier to drive to A&M-San Antonio and vote on campus. She said searching for resources on voting wasn’t complicated.

“I think if you really want to, if you really want to vote, you have to find the information yourself. And I think there’s plenty of links, and resources for that,” Perez said.

Regardless, Perez shared that if this election wasn’t so important, she might not have worked so hard to find the information she needed to register or even voted in this election.

To Perez, voting is a patriotic way for Americans to acknowledge the dark past of their country, understand it and work to move past it. Wanting her voice to be heard, Perez said that finding a way to vote will now allow her to take full advantage of that. 

“Whatever happens, I know for sure that I did speak up and I did put my opinion out there,” Perez said.

How to request a mail-in ballot

Many voters have the chance to vote by mail if they are out of the county at the time of election. In Texas, the deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 23.

Those who are looking at voting by mail must call the local county office holding voting and ask them for a mail-in ballot.

Requirements for mailing an application: 

  1. Mail-in voting applications must be received no later than the 11th day before election date 
  2. Application must be received before closing time of your local county office 
  3. Can submit by fax, mail or common contract carrier 

For Bexar County elections, voters should mail in their ballot to the following:

Elections Administrator:

Jacque Callanen

1103 S. Frio, Ste. 100, 

San Antonio, Tx 78207

Fax: (210) 335-0343

For more information call: (210) 335-8683

All mail-in ballots must be received by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day at your local county office. 

Bexar County residents can track their mail-in ballot at Track-your-Mail-Ballot. In order to track mail-in ballots safely and correctly you need to submit:

  • Last Name 
  • Birth Date 
  • Driver or State ID #
  • SSN (last four digits) 

Voters can call 210-335-8160 for any issues tracking their mail-in ballots. 

About the Authors

Christian Toler
Christian Toler
Christian Toler is a communication sophomore at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. A San Antonio native, Christian works as a piano instructor at Black Box Music & Arts. She plans to travel the world one day and enjoys playing music, writing stories and creating art in her free time. She hopes to use her new learned skills in writing and communication to create something she can be proud of and to help grow her family’s business.
Morgan Lewis
Morgan Lewis
Morgan Lewis is a communication senior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. In addition to writing for The Mesquite, she works as a manager at her local H-E-B plus. Morgan enjoys talking to students at A&M-San Antonio because it allows her to meet new and exciting people. After she graduates, Morgan plans to pursue advertising at H-E-B.

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