Leading up to Election Day, it is likely some people will become exposed to, or be diagnosed with COVID-19, ahead of Tuesday.
For those who find themselves in that situation who have not yet cast their ballots, there are two options for submitting a ballot. The first one is curbside voting; this can be done in your car at a polling location, the poll worker brings you a ballot to be filled out without you having to leave your vehicle. The second way is more complex, but ultimately safer, and that is an emergency early ballot.
For the emergency early ballot, you must apply through your county’s election clerk office. Choose a person to pick up and return the forms. That person will be required to sign a form saying they picked up those materials, and will need to be the same person to bring them back.
In order to be eligible to cast that ballot, you need a physician to fill out one of the forms saying you are sick and unable to vote safely in person.
“We have the forms for you, we can email it to you, or someone is going to be helping you. A doctor has to sign off on it saying you are sick and unable to make it to the polls,” said Kara Sands, the Nueces County Clerk. “You can even do it on Tuesday, on Election Day, until 5:00 p.m."
If you are unable to get in touch with your physician, a non-partisan, non-profit organization called MOVE Texas is offering virtual meetings with volunteer physicians to potentially receive a certificate to apply for an emergency ballot.
“What we did is designed a program to help connect volunteer physicians with voters who needed this physician signature in the last 11 days before the election. In order to help them get the physician’s signature easier, but also at no cost to the voter,” said H. Drew Galloway, the Executive Director of MOVE Texas.
MOVE Texas was formed in 2013 at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Now, it is a statewide organization on 65 campuses and in nine cities. The organization currently has 15 volunteer physicians meeting virtually with voters, and Galloway said the organization received an uptick in meetings over the weekend, and that Monday morning was busy as well.
The voting process for the emergency ballot is complex, but it applies to more than just those who contract COVID-19.
“I think it’s important to acknowledge this is a very burdensome process,” Galloway said. “This applies not only to people who contracted COVID-19, but if you have some sort of an accident or disability that occurs in these final days, this is the way you have to vote. We really feel like we’ve got to make this easier because you can’t feel bad or be in the hospital and try to navigate this program.”
MOVE Texas is working to help out now, but also wishes to make the process easier in the future.
“Our organization is doing everything we can right now in this moment to make this as easy as possible, but we are looking for long term change in the future as well,” Galloway said.
To get in touch with MOVE Texas to set up a virtual meeting with a volunteer physicians, call 833-4MOVETX (833-466-8389).
For physicians who wish to volunteer their services, learn more at movetexas.org/emergencyballot.