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Voting During COVID-19

Individual Rights

Know your rights and the law for voting during COVID-19.

In this article, learn when the next statewide is held, how to keep yourself safe while voting, and other information on voting during the pandemic.

This article was last updated on December 16, 2022.

When is the next election?

In 2023, the next statewide election date is scheduled for Saturday, May 6, 2023. Early in-person voting for this election can begin April 24, 2023. The last day of early in-person voting is May 2, 2023. In order to vote in the May 6, 2023 election, you must be registered to vote by April 6, 2023. 

See When to Vote and Important Election Dates from the Texas Secretary of State. 

Poll hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day (see Texas Elections Code chapter 41.031) but hours during early voting may vary by county. 

How can I keep myself safe when voting during the COVID-19 outbreak?

The League of Women Voters offers these tips:

  • Vote by mail if you are eligible.
  • Go to the polls during early voting.
  • Vote during non-peak hours.
  • When you update your voter registration, practice social distancing.

There are also additional services for persons with disabilities.

The League of Women Voters has information on accommodations for voters with disabilities.

Can I vote by mail because of COVID-19 concerns?

In Texas, you can only vote by mail if you are:

  • age 65 or older;
  • disabled;
  • expected to give birth within three weeks before or after Election Day;
  • out of the county on election day and during early voting; or
  • in jail but otherwise eligible.

You can find an Application for a Ballot by Mail on the website of the Texas Secretary of State. 

Being at risk for COVID-19 does not, by itself, qualify voters to vote by mail in Texas. The Texas Supreme Court held in a May 2020 opinion that a prospective voter's lack of immunity to COVID-19, without more, is not a 'disability' as defined by the Texas Election Code.

At the same time, "election officials have no responsibility to question or investigate a ballot application that is valid on its face. The decision to apply to vote by mail based on a disability is the voter’s, subject to a correct understanding of the statutory definition of 'disability.'” Actually having an active COVID-19 illness might qualify as a disability. Seek legal advice on this issue. 

If you are in the military or live overseas, read Military & Overseas Voters from VoteTexas to learn what to do to obtain and cast your ballot.

Can I wear a mask when I vote?

Masks can be worn in polling locations. According to the office of the Texas Secretary of State, poll workers can ask you to remove your face covering if they need to confirm your identity at the polls. You do not have to completely remove it. Read the Health Protocols for Voters for information about masking and other procedures. Not all polling locations may follow these protocols.

Although you may wear a mask, masks are not currently required at polling locations. On July 28, 2021, Governor Abbott Executive Order GA-38 banning mask mandates in Texas. Issues concerning masks or facial coverings at polling sites are still being fought over in the courts. Check Texas news sources for the latest information.

Do not wear face coverings that promote a candidate, party, or measure that's on the ballot. 

Do I have to vote in person if I have COVID-19?

You might be able to vote by "emergency ballot" if you develop COVID-19 or other disability after the deadline to apply for a ballot by mail has passed. This process is complicated. Call the Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE for help in this situation.

You can also vote curbside in this situation. If you need curbside voting, go to your polling location and ask an election officer to bring a ballot to you, either at the entrance of the polling place or to your car parked curbside. Mark your ballot and return the marked ballot to the election officer. The election officer will then put the ballot in the ballot box. (Or, at the voter’s request, a companion may hand the voter a ballot and deposit it for the voter.) If you plan to go alone to vote curbside, it is wise to call ahead so election officials will expect you, though calling ahead is not required.

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