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Have a mail ballot? It’s best now to drop it off at the courthouse, El Paso election chief says

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El Pasoans still holding mail ballots for Tuesday’s election should bring them to the County Courthouse rather than entrusting them to the Postal Service, El Paso’s top election official said.

“I would say Downtown is preferable,” County Elections Administrator Lisa Wise said when asked if people with mail ballots should go to the Downtown courthouse or drop them in the mail.

As of Tuesday, more than 11,700 El Pasoans who had requested mail ballots had not returned them, according to county records. Some voters who request mail ballots opt to vote in-person during early voting or on Election Day.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that only 85.6 percent of all first-class mail nationally was delivered on time the week of Oct. 16, the 14th consecutive week the on-time rate was below 90 percent for mail that should reach its destination within three days.

Gov. Greg Abbott restricted Texas counties to one drop-off location for mail ballots, and the state Supreme Court upheld the ruling. El Paso County never planned to have more than one mail ballot drop.

Mail ballots can be dropped off at the El Paso County Courthouse, 500 E. San Antonio, at the east entrance on Campbell Street. Mail ballots must be dropped off by the voter who is casting the ballot.

If you’re mailing your vote, Texas law is strict on when it must be received by the elections office in order to be counted.

“Civilian (mail) ballots can be accepted until 5 p.m. on Nov. 4 if they have a readable postmark prior to close of polls on Nov. 3,” Wise said.

Mail ballots from members of the armed forces and their dependents can be accepted in Texas until six days after Election Day

In addition to using the Downtown drop-off location, people who received a mail ballot but haven’t yet returned it can vote in person during early voting or on Election Day. 

“They need to bring the (mail) ballot with them to the voting site and surrender it.  If they don’t have it, they will need to vote provisional,” Wise said.

Cover photo: A poll worker takes the ballot of a voter arriving at the ballot drop-off location near the El Paso County Courthouse on Wednesday. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

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Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist and the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on border issues by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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