If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that I was waiting on my absentee ballot to come in the mail for weeks. Since I voted as an absentee voter in 2012, I thought surely this process would be easy. Why would I not be able to vote? I was wrong.
In order to vote in Texas, you have to mail in an application for an absentee ballot first. I went to the VoteTexas.gov website, printed off my ballot, and mailed it to the voting clerk in Dallas County. I even e-mailed Dallas County a copy of my ballot just to cover all my bases. This is where I ran into several problems. First, I was told that e-mailing my ballot was useless. The county needed a hard copy in order to get me in their system as an absentee voter. I thought this was interesting because the VoteTexas.gov website said that you can email a completed and signed application to the voting clerk. Good thing I mailed in my hard copy!
Second, it took them weeks to get my application in the mail and enter it into the system. I called Dallas County every four days or so for a status update and every time someone would tell me that they haven’t received anything from me. This was so frustrating!
My application was nowhere to be found and I could not track it.
By this point, the early voting period was about to end. Approximately on October 22, 2020, I called Dallas County and they told me that I was in the system as an absentee and a ballot was on its way to me. I was so hopeful! However, this feeling of elation did not last long.
Every day after October 22nd I checked my mailbox to see whether my absentee ballot had arrived from my home state of Texas. It never showed up!! As a first-year law student, I was worried that I would be forced to miss class and fly home or risk not voting at all. Waiting around for my ballot to come and potentially missing the deadline to send it back to Texas was not an option for me.
On Monday, November 1, 2020, my mother booked me a ticket back home from Pennsylvania to Texas. I emailed all my professors to let them know what I was doing. All the responses I got back we’re very supportive! You can see the emails below. Luckily, our classes are partially remote so I was able to do homework on the plane and zoom into classes I had for that day.
Upon arriving in Dallas on Tuesday, my mother picked me up and took us straight to the nearest polling site. When I got there I encountered more problems. Most people don’t know this but in order to cast a ballot in-person, you have to cancel your absentee application. Some counties make you sign an affidavit and in others, you have to physically void your application. For me, I told a poll worker my situation and was immediately directed to the Election Judge on site. She had to make a few calls to let the county know that I never received my ballot and was here to vote in-person. Once they cleared my absentee status, I was able to vote. I’m so glad I talked to a poll worker! My vote could have been invalid...who knows. Anything is possible these days.
In addition to the financial strain of buying a last-minute ticket, another downside to this was that I had to wake up at 4:00 a.m. for my departing flight and mentally shift my focus away from law school. If you know anything about being a first-year student, then you know that your first semester of law school is the most important one of your whole career!
While I’m so stressed out with school, I found it imperative to vote...not matter the cost. Not only is it my civic duty to vote, but my black ancestors fought hard for my right to vote! I had to make them proud and do everything in my power to make sure I voted.
Every voice matters. Every voice deserves to be heard! Given this divisive campaign season, a global pandemic, and the controversy of the U.S. Postal Service, many voters like myself took extra measures to make sure our votes were counted.
Thank you to all of my friends, followers, and family who donated to me this week! It helped with all the expenses I occurred on Tuesday, November 3rd. You can see some of the donations below.
If you experienced something similar, let me know in the comments below!
Until Next Time,
“Your life is happening now. Make it amazing!”