Voting Season Begins

The 2008 voting season is already underway in Iowa, which is holding its party caucuses this week. The Texas primaries are in March, but the process of voting by mail in those primaries begins this week. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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Even in this age of high tech many people still have to vote by mail because they won't be in town during early voting and on election day. Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman says those people can apply for a mail-in ballot for the March primary starting this Friday, 60 days before the primary.

"We do require a written application. You can call our office and we'll mail you an application, or if you have computer access there are downloadable printable applications on the website." 

State law requires people who want to vote by mail to apply in writing, and Kaufman says voters must also specify which primary they plan to vote in so her office can send the appropriate ballot back in the mail. 

"Otherwise we'll be mailing that application back to you and saying 'well which party do you want to vote in because in this state you can't vote in both', and also you should check that you want a runoff ballot because primaries tend to have some runoffs."

Kaufman says you'd be surprised at how many people vote by mail, especially in a Presidential election year, and they're not just military personnel, who, she says, account for only about 20 percent of the mail-in voters.

"We may process upwards of 50,000 ballots by mail in this election, which is a large number. It could even exceed that." 

Kaufman says even though several other states will be having their primaries ahead of the March Texas primary, she believes Texas will continue to play a big role in picking the Presidential candidates.

"We're still going to be an important part of the scene in March, in Presidential politics because we are a large Electoral College state, and so winning Texas is very very important in the march to the nomination." 

Kaufman says voters can get more information on voting by mail, and voting in general by calling her office at 713-755-6965, or on her website, which you can reach on our website KUHF dot org. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.