AUSTIN, TX – Today, Texas Secretary of State John Steen announced he has selected Bexar County for a pilot program to allow some overseas military voters to return their ballots by email.
“Texas is committed to helping our service men and women exercise their right to vote regardless if they are stationed at home or abroad,” said Secretary Steen. “Thank you to the Texas Legislature and Bexar County for helping us find the best ways to assist our military overseas in harm’s way.”
House Bill 1129, passed during the last legislative session and signed by Gov. Rick Perry, allows a pilot program to be established in a single county to receive ballots by email from military voters in hostile-fire zones. Results from the one-county pilot program may be used to determine the feasibility of a statewide military email balloting program.
“We want to ensure our state’s military men and women in combat have the greatest opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to vote, and this bill removes possible barriers to their ability to do so,” said Rep. James White, the bill’s author and an Army veteran. “This pilot program will allow the state to test ways to make voting easier for those who risk their lives to protect our freedoms without compromising the security of the ballot.”
Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, the bill’s sponsor, stressed the importance of the pilot program for Texas.
“With Texas’ large military population, especially in Bexar County, our state must always be looking for ways to help our service members exercise their right to vote,” said Van de Putte who represents part of Bexar County and chairs the Senate Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee.
HB 1129 directs the Texas Secretary of State to select one county for the pilot program. Bexar County was chosen because of its large military population and capabilities to manage the technological aspects of email balloting.
Bexar County Election Administrator Jacque Callanen said her county is ready to get to work on the project.
“We consider this a great opportunity in Bexar County to not only pioneer a new voting program in the state but to also directly help our many military members serving in high-risk areas overseas,” said Callanen.
To return their ballot by email, voters will be required to be registered in Bexar County and must be eligible for hostile fire pay.
Bexar County is home to Joint Base San Antonio, which is the largest base organization in the Department of Defense. It supports more than 250,000 personnel.
In 2008, Bexar County successfully participated in pilot program to send email ballots to overseas military voters by email.
For more information about voting in Texas, visit: www.votetexas.gov