|TO:||County Clerks/Elections Administrators|
|FROM:||Ann McGeehan, Director of Elections|
|DATE:||February 17, 2010|
|RE:||Procedures Relating to Military/Overseas Voters|
We are sending this memo as a reminder about important procedures for military/overseas voters.
As you know, the FPCA form acts as an application for ballot by mail for two federal election cycles, or approximately four years. As you send ballots to FPCA voters, we remind you that each voter who submitted an FPCA to your office November 1, 2006 or later should receive a ballot by mail (any FPCAs received that were effective after the November 2006 general election).
Email Transmission of FPCAs
As described in our Election Advisory No. 2009-12, any voter entitled to use an FPCA may submit the (scanned image of a signed hardcopy) FPCA form by email. (Note: The law about returning the ballot by fax is still restricted to voters in hostile pay/combat zones. The ballot may not be returned by e-mail regardless of category.)
Use of the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot for Primary Election
The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is the federal form voters may use to vote before an election if they have not received their official ballot. A voter who has submitted his FPCA, but has not received the official ballot, may use the FWAB as a write-in ballot to ensure that his vote is received.
In order for a voter to be entitled to use the FWAB, she must be a voter who may use the FPCA (an overseas citizen or a military voter, spouse, or dependent). The voter must also have filed the FPCA with the early voting clerk by the seventh day before election day (the regular deadline).
If you have an FPCA on file for a voter and receive a FWAB from the voter before you have mailed the official ballot, you must continue with normal procedure and mail the voter an official ballot. If the official ballot is returned by the deadline, you will forward the official ballot to the early voting ballot board. If the deadline for receiving overseas ballots passes and you have only the voter’s FWAB, then forward the FWAB to the early voting ballot board for processing.
Voters in Combat Zones/Hostile Fire Pay Areas
Pursuant to Section 105.001 of the Texas Election Code, military voters stationed in recognized hostile fire, imminent danger pay areas, or areas designated as combat zones by the President of the United States are authorized to return an early voting ballot by telephonic facsimile transmission (fax). Only military voters on active duty and their spouses or dependents stationed in these areas qualify to submit their voted ballots in this manner. (The ballot may not be returned by e-mail regardless of category. The previous e-mail pilot program is not currently in effect.)
We have enclosed a current list of all territories designated as hostile fire, imminent danger pay areas or combat zones. The State of Texas continues to work with the Federal Voting Assistance Program (“FVAP”) to implement this program in Texas. The program will operate as follows:
- A voter in a designated zone receives, by mail, a ballot with the voting materials and envelopes from the early voting clerk, per normal procedure. The voter decides if he would like to return his ballot by fax. The voter may also choose to return the ballot by mail.
- If the voter decides to return the ballot by fax, he must fax the ballot to the FVAP, along with this cover sheet. Please note that you may not accept a faxed ballot directly from the voter. If you receive a ballot faxed directly from a voter, you may not accept it. However, if this happens, please advise the voter that he should submit his voted ballot, via fax, to FVAP. This safeguards both the fax voting procedures and the voter’s right to have his vote counted.
- FVAP faxes the following items to the Texas early voting clerk: 1) the faxed voted ballot; 2) the faxed cover sheet signed by the voter, and 3) the faxed cover sheet initiated by FVAP.
- When the early voting clerk receives these materials, the faxed voted ballot is folded, placed in a ballot envelope and sealed. The ballot envelope, along with both faxed cover sheets and application to vote by mail or FPCA, is placed in the jacket envelope.
- The early voting clerk must keep a record of the names of the voters whose ballots were received by fax. Before the early voting clerk forwards the faxed ballot to the early voting board, she must be certain that: 1) no more than one faxed ballot has been received for the voter; and 2) the voter did not return the original ballot by mail.
- If you have received more than one ballot, returned by fax and forwarded to you by FVAP, from the voter, then the first one received should be forwarded to the ballot board.
- If you have received both the original ballot from the voter, and also a ballot returned by fax and forwarded by FVAP, the first one received should be forwarded to the ballot board.
- Any subsequent ballots received from the same voter are considered not timely returned, and are not forwarded to the ballot board, but are retained by the early voting clerk.
- The jacket envelopes containing faxed ballots are delivered to the early voting ballot board along with the other early voting by mail ballots and are processed in the same manner as other ballots. However, since there will be no carrier envelopes for these ballots, the voter’s signature on the fax cover sheet is compared with the voter’s signature on the application for ballot by mail or FPCA.
Faxed Ballot Return Deadline; Other Procedures
- Faxed ballots must be received by the close of polls on election day in order to be counted. If a faxed ballot appears to have reached the FVAP office before 7:00 p.m. on election day, but did not reach your office by 7:00 p.m., the ballot is considered late. Faxed ballots received in accordance with chapter 105 of the Code are not eligible to be counted late under Section 86.007 of the Texas Election Code. Late counting applies only to ballots returned by mail from outside the country.
- In order to be faxed, ballots must fit on an 8 ½” by 11” sheet of paper. Therefore, if the ballot is larger than 8 ½” by 11”, you may receive several faxed sheets associated with one ballot.
- The early voting ballot board will count the ballots in the regular manner. For counties using electronic voting equipment, the ballots are delivered to the central counting station with the other electronic ballots. The central counting station manager will determine whether to hand-count or duplicate the faxed ballots.
The Secretary of State will provide FVAP with the number to your office fax. You will not be responsible for keeping your fax number up-to-date with FVAP. It is most important that you let our office know if you change your fax number so we can forward the change to FVAP. You may wish to review your county’s contact information in the Texas portion of the online voter’s guide at www.fvap.gov.
The fax numbers that qualified military voters use to fax their ballot to FVAP are: (703) 693-5527; DSN 223-5527; or toll-free, 800-368-8683 (from US, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands).
If you have any questions about any of the procedures addressed above, please contact the Elections Division toll-free at 1-800-252-2216.
Designated Hostile Fire or Imminent Danger Pay Areas
As of May 2009 (Source - U.S. Dept. of Defense)
|Arabian Peninsula, the airspace above the Persian Gulf and land area of Saudi Arabia and the surface area of the following sea boundaries: Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, and Arabian Sea north of 10º north latitude and west of 68º east longitude||Liberia|
|Congo, Democratic Republic of (formerly Zaire)||Philippines|
|Greece (land area within a 14-km radius from the center of Athens)||Tajikistan|
|Haiti||Turkey, excluding the Turkish Straits, and including the limited airspace south of 37-45N and east of 43-00E.|
|Iran||United Arab Emirates|
|Jordan||Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of (see also, Montenegro and Serbia)|
|Kenya||Zaire (Note, name changed to Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997)|