© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

#TXDecides: Bexar County Elections and You – A Conversation With Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen

Joey Palacios
Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen sat down with us to talk about voter registration and the 2020 Election

On Friday afternoon, TPR's Joey Palacios spoke with Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen in a Facebook Live interview as the deadline for voter registration in Texas approaches on Oct. 5.

Quick Facts:

Early voting begins on Tuesday, Oct. 13. It’s six days earlier than usual because of an emergency order issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bexar County currently has 1,164,000 registered voters, the highest in the county’s history. Callanen hopes to add 11,000 more voters by the time registration closes.

Since the 2016 presidential election, the county has added more than 115,000 registered voters. That’s the largest increase between presidential elections so far.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Voter Registration:

Callanen said her office is processing hundreds of new registrations per day and that there is currently a processing backlog. Voters who would like to see if their registration was processed should wait at least 4-5 days before verifying.

Voters who wish to verify their registration can call 210-335-VOTE or visit the Bexar County Elections website.

Voter registration applications can be found at the Bexar County elections office or online with the Secretary of State’s office. The application must be printed and mailed or turned into the Bexar County elections office. If mailed, it must be postmarked by Oct. 5.

Callanen talked about unique situations that voters may find themselves in if they move or change addresses. For some voters, it may be simple if you’re just moving from one address to another in Bexar County. Others who move from one county to another during early voting may have to receive a special ballot.

Mail System:

The reliability of the mail system has received scrutiny in recent weeks over the dismantling of mail sorting machines.

Callanen said she couldn’t speak to any delays in receiving mail or voter registrations. She added that her staff had not checked to see how far back some applications had been postmarked when they were received. She did not indicate if her office had experienced any disruptions in mail.

Voters who are concerned about the mail system can drop off their voter registrations, vote by mail applications, and official vote by mail ballots at the elections office.

Mail-in and Absentee Ballots:

Voters who are eligible to vote by mail can request a mail ballot anytime until Oct. 23. Those who are eligible include voters who are:

· Going to be away from your county on Election Day and during early voting

· Sick or disabled

· 65 years of age or older on Election Day

· Confined in jail, but eligible to vote

The Texas Supreme Court recently decided that fear of contracting COVID-19 does not constitute a disability eligible for mail-in ballot.

However, Callanen says ailments that are high risk, like diabetes, heart disease and other underlying conditions listed by the CDC, can qualify a voter to request a mail-in ballot.

Early voting and voting centers:

Bexar County will have 48 early voting sites that will be open on Oct. 13. The county will have 285 voting centers open on Election Day.

During the July election, several election judges declined to work on Election Day due to the high rates of COVID-19 in the county at the time, which required voters to be redirected to other voting centers.

Callanen said she does not expect that to happen during this election.

Four school districts — Northside, North East, East Central, and Judson ISDs — have announced their districts will have a student holiday on Election Day, allowing voting centers at those campuses to operate without students nearby.