On Thursday, the Texas Democratic Party hosted a panel discussion on vote-by-mail as part of their virtual convention. This is a timely issue as Democrats work to ensure that everyone can vote during the pandemic.
Luke Warford, the TDP’s Director of Voter Expansion, noted that less than a quarter of registered voters in Texas are eligible to vote by mail. While he noted that the TDP had filed two lawsuits to expand mail-in ballots, Warford said that there were things that can be done now to ensure that those who are eligible to vote by mail do so.
Celina Montoya, who’s running for state Representative in District 121 (one of the state House seats considered flippable by Democrats), discussed how vote-by-mail factored into her campaign strategy. “We’ve utilized our access to Hustle during well checks to start creating that relationship,” said Montoya. “Part of it is a conversation and that’s something we need to establish early on.”
DJ Ybarra, executive director of the Harris County Democratic Party, called wellness checks a “fantastic idea” that helped build relationships with voters. “This is a very easy low-hanging fruit to talk to people,” said Ybarra. “Maybe you don’t even talk to them about voting that first time.”
Ybarra also noted that 79 percent of people who could use vote-by-mail nonetheless decided to vote in person in 2018. He said that it was important to encourage voters who are eligible to use vote-by-mail so it would be easier for those who are not eligible to vote in-person. “There’s gonna be people who don’t want to stand in line or don’t want to stand in big crowds,” said Ybarra. “You’re saving your spot for them.”
Warford concluded the discussion by answering concerns about how to ensure one’s vote gets counted if it’s sent by mail. “We have the ability to see if a person’s application for a ballot by mail has been received and to check if their actual ballot when they send it in has been received.”
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