AUSTIN (KXAN) — Central Texas election officials are preparing for unprecedented levels of mail-in voting in the November election as President Donald Trump signals he would block additional funding for the United States Postal Service, which is already experiencing widespread delays.
Dana DeBeauvoir, the county clerk in Travis County, said she has already received 31,000 mail-in ballot applications for the November election. She expects more than 100,000 mail-in ballots to be cast, a record for any election.
“I worry about the potential damage done to the post office, and how they’re going to keep up given these constraints on them now,” DeBeauvoir told KXAN.
Ongoing financial troubles, along with a reorganization of the USPS in July, have caused delays to mail delivery across the country.
President Trump, speaking to Fox News, said he would block additional funding for the USPS, which he said would prevent Democrats from expanding mail-in voting.
DeBeauvoir said she is meeting with representatives from the USPS and Texas Secretary of State’s Office to ensure every vote is counted.
“The election itself, I think, is going to be okay, and in-person voting is going to be just fine, we’ve learned all the lessons for that, but I worry about the sabotage to the mail system so that people then can’t get their voted ballots back into the office,” she said. “I’m very worried about it.”
Courts have stalled or blocked efforts by Texas Democrats to expand mail-in voting to all Texans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The party has refocused efforts to send 1.75 million mail-in ballot applications to eligible seniors across the state, a record campaign for the party.
“We don’t look at it as advantaging one particular party or another,” said Cliff Walker, deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party. “This is about our democracy.”
In Hays County, Election Administrator Jennifer Anderson expects record mail-in voting there, too.
She’s encouraging people who plan to vote in-person to take advantage of early voting and avoid challenges the pandemic may present on Election Day.
“I think we have more potential to not have those answers on election night,” Anderson said, referencing the demand for mail-in ballots. “I don’t know if we’re there yet, but we’re getting incredibly close.”
To qualify for a mail-in ballot, a voter must be 65 years or older, disabled, out of the county on Election Day or in jail. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Friday, Oct. 23.
Early voting will be held Oct. 13-30. Election Day is Nov. 3.