Breckenridge Texan

Voter registration deadline set for Oct. 5; new laws affect Early Voting, Ballot by Mail

Voter registration deadline set for Oct. 5; new laws affect Early Voting, Ballot by Mail
September 24
15:42 2020

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

As Election Day approaches, Stephens County Elections Administrator Christie Latham has announced some upcoming dates and deadlines that may be of interest to local citizens.

The 2020 General Election will include the offices of President, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and various state, district and county offices. The only contested local races are for Stephens County Sheriff and City Commissioner.

Register to vote deadline

The last day to register to vote will be Monday, Oct. 5. To register to vote, you may pick up an application at the Stephens County Courthouse, 200 W. Walker St., or you can complete and print a voter registration application online at the Secretary of State’s website. Once completed, the application must be submitted to the Stephens County Voter Registrar’s office (Tax Assessor-Collector’s office) before the deadline of close of business (4:30 p.m.) on Monday, Oct. 5.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you’re already registered to vote, you can check on your registration status on the Texas Secretary of State’s “Am I Registered?” website page. There’s a brief online form for you to fill out with some basic information about yourself (for example, name, date of birth, county you live in), and then the site will instantly tell you whether or not you are registered to vote. You can also find out if you are registered to vote by calling or visiting the County Voter Registrar in the Stephens County Tax Assessor/Collector’s office in the courthouse or by phone at 254-559-2732.

According to a Texas Tribune article posted online Wednesday, Sept. 23, Texans can now register to vote when they renew their Texas driver license online. The article says that U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled last month that DPS is “legally obligated” to allow voters to simultaneously register to vote with every license renewal or change-of-address application and ordered the state to set up a “fully operable” online system by Sept. 23. The State complied, updating its online system on Wednesday.

Early Voting

Early Voting will take place Oct. 13-16, Oct. 19-23 and Oct. 26-30.

Early Voting will take place at the Stephens County Courthouse from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Since this is a joint election between Stephens County and the City of Breckenridge, they are required to allow two 12-hour days of voting. Those times will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29, and Friday, Oct. 30.

In July, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a Proclamation extending the early voting period for the Nov. 3 Election by nearly a week, to the dates listed above. The proclamation also expands the period in which marked mail-in ballots may be delivered in person to the early voting clerk’s office, allowing such delivery prior to, as well as on, Election Day.

“As we respond to COVID-19, the State of Texas is focused on strategies that preserve Texans’ ability to vote in a way that also mitigates the spread of the virus,” Abbott said in a news release issued in July. “By extending the early voting period and expanding the period in which mail-in ballots can be hand-delivered, Texans will have greater flexibility to cast their ballots, while at the same time protecting themselves and others from COVID-19.”

On Wednesday, Sept. 23, the Texas Tribune reported that a group of Texas Republicans has filed a lawsuit against the governor over the extension. According to the article, the plaintiffs argue Abbott needs to consult the Legislature before making such decisions.

However, in his proclamation, Abbott cites Section 418.016 of the Texas Government Code, stating that the legislature has expressly authorized the Governor to suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or the orders or rules of a state agency if strict compliance with the provisions, orders, or rules would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with a disaster. Under that authority, he suspended Section 85.00 1(a) of the Texas Election Code in order to extend early voting and to expand the mail-in ballot options.

The proclamation says that “in order to ensure that elections proceed efficiently and safely when Texans go to the polls to cast a vote in person during early voting or on election day for the Nov. 3, 2020, elections, it is necessary to increase the number of days in which polling locations will be open during the early voting period, such that election officials can implement appropriate social distancing and safe hygiene practices.”

Ballot by Mail

The last day to apply for Ballot by Mail is 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23. That is the last day that the Voter Registrar can receive the application; it is not a postmark deadline.

There are significant changes to the Ballot By Mail procedures for this upcoming election, Latham said. For this election, a voter will be allowed to return their ballot in person to the Early Voting Clerk (aka Tax Assessor’s office). The voter must return the ballot him or herself; it may not be delivered by another person. The voter must show their government-issued photo ID and must sign an affidavit when returning the Ballot by Mail in person.

Requirements for applying for Ballot By Mail remain the same as always. “Please rest assured at the Stephens County level, that every effort possible is made, and many different check points and security factors are in place, that would prevent voter fraud from occurring though the Ballot By Mail process,” Latham said in a written statement.

Registered voters who meet certain criteria may be eligible to vote early by mail. You may request a ballot by mail if you:

  • will be away from your county on Election Day and during the hours that early voting is conducted;
  • are sick or disabled;
  • are 65 years of age or older on Election Day; or
  • are confined in jail but otherwise eligible to vote.

To request a Ballot by Mail for Stephens County, call 254-559-2732 and request that an application to vote by mail be sent to you, or visit the Secretary of State’s website and print out the application.

Voters wanting to vote by mail must re-apply every year in order to receive ballots for each election in that year. There are instructions on the application.

Election Day

Those voters choosing to vote in person on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, must vote in the precinct where they are registered to vote. The precinct is listed on your voter registration card and also is available on the Am I Registered? Web page.

Election Day voting precinct locations:

  • Precinct 1:  First National Bank Showcase and Tower Room, 101 E. Walker, Breckenridge
  • Precinct 2:  First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 1601 W. Elliott, Breckenridge
  • Precinct 3:  Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce, 100 E. Elm, Breckenridge
  • Precinct 4:  BISD Service Support Center, 907 U.S. Highway 183 North, Breckenridge
  • Precinct 5:  Wayland Volunteer Fire Department, 10276 FM 1852


Cutline, top photo: Local citizens wearing masks and practicing social distancing cast their ballots at the Stephens County Courthouse in the Primary Runoff Election on Monday, June 29. Early Voting for the General Election will be Oct. 13-30 (weekdays only) at the courthouse. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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