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Election Advisory No. 2022-02

To: County Elections Officers (County Clerks/Elections Administrators/Tax Assessors-Collectors)
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Keith Ingram's signature
Date: January 10, 2022
RE: Instructions and Deadlines for Mailing/Emailing Ballots Under the Federal “MOVE Act” for Overseas Voters

Pursuant to the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (“MOVE”) Act, the blank official ballot must be mailed or emailed to any voter who submits a Federal Postcard Application (“FPCA”). All FPCAs submitted on or after January 1, 2022 are effective for the 2022 primaries and general election.

Section 84.007, Texas Election Code, provides that if an ABBM is faxed or emailed or if an FPCA is faxed, then the applicant must submit the original application by mail to the early voting clerk so that the early voting clerk receives the original no later than the 4th business day after receiving the emailed or faxed ABBM or faxed FPCA. An FPCA still has independent authority for email delivery under Section 101.052. This means an emailed FPCA is not required to be followed by hardcopy.

Deadline to Mail Overseas Ballots

As a reminder, all ballots to FPCA voters must be mailed on or before the 45th day before election day. The deadline for mailing ballots for the 2022 primary election is Saturday, January 15, 2022. Please note that although the deadline falls on a Saturday, it does not extend to the next business day. Therefore, we recommend mailing your ballots by Friday, January 14, 2022. If you plan on mailing your ballots on Saturday, we recommend that you consult with your local post office to confirm dates/hours their office will be open.

If a FPCA is received after the 45th-day deadline, the ballot should be mailed or emailed not later than the seventh calendar day after the date the FPCA is received. If a regular (non-FPCA) application for a ballot by mail is received after the 45th-day deadline from a voter who is not in the military or overseas, the ballot should be mailed not later than the

seventh calendar day after the date the application is accepted. TEX. ELEC. CODE § 86.004(b).

The following are important deadlines affecting FPCA voters:

March 1, 2022 General Primary Election

May 24, 2022 Primary Runoff Election

November 8, 2022 General Election for State and County Officers

Emergency Ballots

We would also like to take this time to remind you that you have the authority to create emergency ballots. If you do not receive your ballots in time to meet the 45-day deadline,you may create your own paper ballots or, if you have a copy of the ballot in the Adobe .pdf format, which is often provided by the printer for your proofing, you may forward a copy to the voter. If you have a physical copy of the ballot and a scanner, you could scan the ballot and attach a copy of the scanned ballot to the email to the voter. If you have a copy of the ballot in Microsoft Word, you could attach a copy in that format. The main key is that it should be in a digital format that the average voter will be able to open and print.

Instructions for Emailing Ballots

Any voter who submits an FPCA and requests that the ballot be emailed, must be emailed a blank official ballot. The voter should be emailed a signature sheet and detailed instructions on returning their voted mail ballot. Below you will find information related to email instructions which we encourage you to use and modify as necessary for your county:

Instructions to the Early Voting Clerk

 When an early voting clerk emails the balloting materials to a MOVE voter, the early voting clerk should take the following steps:

  1. Paste MOVE Act Email Ballot Instructions into the email.> The MOVE Act Email Ballot Instructions form contains several instances where the early voting clerk will need to add attachments and personalize the email to make sure that MOVE voters receive all instructions necessary for completing and returning the marked ballots, as appropriate to their early voting clerk.
  2. Attach Ballot or Insert a Link to the Ballot and List of Certified Write-In Candidates (if applicable). The Early Voting Clerk will need to attach an Unmarked Ballot (appropriate to the voter’s specific precinct) and the List of Certified Write-In Candidates, if applicable. The Early Voting Clerk may insert a link to the unmarked ballot, as the ballot is “static,” which means that voter can mark and print the ballot without being connected to the Internet.
  3. Attach all applicable instructions. The Early Voting Clerk must remember to include the ballot instructions for the applicable method of voting and the signature sheet (PDF) as prescribed by the Office of the Secretary of State.
  4. Insert early voting clerk contact information in the attached notice to voter. In the email instructions to the voter, the early voting clerk should include the clerk’s telephone number, email and mailing address in the designated areas for MOVE voters to use if they need additional assistance in completing or returning their marked ballot by mail.
  5. The early voting clerk MUST provide the voter with a signature sheet that contains a place for the voter to include the required personal identification number.
  6. The early voting clerk MUST provide the voter with information about mailing the voted ballot back to the early voting clerk.
  7. NOTE: Starting in 2022, you must send the signature sheet to FPCA email ballot voters, as the voters must include their required personal identification number for review by the early voting ballot board.

  8. The county has two choices with regard to the carrier envelope or mailing envelope for voters to use when returning the voted ballot:
      • he county may rely on the voter to print the carrier envelope from the link provided on the email; or
      • If the county has access to the appropriate software and the technological ability, it may include, as an attachment with the unmarked ballot, a carrier envelope file that has the voter’s name in the upper left hand corner and the county’s return mailing address to assist the MOVE voter in returning their marked ballot by mail.

Sample Email Instructions to Voter

The text below contains a sample email you may use to provide voters with their balloting materials. Please note that the email contains information that must be personalized to your county.

Dear FPCA Voter:

Per your request and in accordance with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, this correspondence includes your unmarked ballot for the upcoming election. This email also includes instructions for processing the ballot, and a list of certified write-in candidates, if applicable.

If, after reading the instructions, you have questions regarding the completion or return mailing of this ballot, please contact your early voting clerk at [insert county telephone number] or by email at [insert county email address].

Note: Your marked ballot must be received in our office by regular mail on or before 7:00 p.m. on Election Day. If you are a non-military overseas citizen submitting your ballot from outside the United States, the ballot must be postmarked by Election Day and received by the county elections office no later than the 5th day after Election Day. If you are a member of the military, Merchant Marine or National Guard, the ballot must be received by the 6th day after election day. If your ballot is not received by the applicable deadline, it will be rejected and will not be counted for this election.

Instructions for Processing the Emailed Ballot

Instructions for Marking the Emailed Ballot

Federal Write-In Ballot Process

Resources

The following items are helpful guidance on the MOVE Act’s requirements:

If you have any questions relating to the implementation of the MOVE Act, please contact our office at your earliest convenience. You may reach the Legal Department at 1-800- 252-2216, Option 2.

KI:CA:MB