UT students unable to vote absentee, frustrated that ballots never arrived

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Photo Credit: Valeria Trevino | Daily Texan Staff

Finance sophomore Jacob Esparza requested his absentee ballot from Cameron County, Texas at the beginning of October. After two weeks of waiting, it still had not arrived. 

Esparza said he had heard of this happening to others, but he never imagined it would happen to him.

“It’s upsetting because it is kind of a moral thing,” Esparza said. “It's just an obligation as an American citizen to vote. It obviously is an important election, and it would have been nice to have been able to be a part of it.”

When Esparza called his county elections office, they told him his ballot had been sent out. After checking his mail for a week with no success, he called again and the office told him his ballot had been deemed “undeliverable” and returned. 

“Fortunately, it was actually early enough (a week and a half before the election) to where I could get them to send me another ballot, but I didn't get that one either,” Esparza said.

Esparza said his hometown is five hours away and he does not have a car, so he could not go home to vote. 

 

Glen Maxey, primary director of Texas Democrats and a former Texas House Representative, said a large issue during the general election was an overrun U.S. Postal Service.

“This is the first election where we had challenges with the U.S. Postal Service delivery times,” Maxey said. 

Maxey said Texas also does not have a system for online voter registration or online requests for absentee ballots like some other states, such as Colorado and Oregon.

Molecular biology sophomore Alexa Burchak said she requested her absentee ballot the week of Oct. 5, but she did not receive it until Election Day. 

“This was peak frustration for me as I was barely too young to vote in the Senate race in 2018, so this was my first election and it was important to vote,” Burchak said. “I'm definitely a proponent of the state sending everybody an absentee ballot.”

Maxey said that the Texas Democratic Party is pushing for all Texans to receive an absentee ballot in advance so they will know early if their ballot did not arrive and correct it.

Burchak said while she wanted to participate in the presidential election, it was also important to her to vote for her district congressman.