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Eligible county jail inmates will be able to vote by mail

Staff Report

The possibility of mail-in voting in Texas appears to be dead for the vast majority of the population, but it is assured for one largely-overlooked group of voters – those who are incarcerated.

Texas law allows for anyone over the age of 18 to cast a ballot who is not a convicted felon (or has completed their sentence, probation and parole) and has not been declared mentally incapacitated by a court of law.

Hays County Jail has a capacity of 362 but because the Texas Commission on Jail Standards says lockups must have a 10% buffer, the maximum capacity is 311. The majority of those – exact figures are not available – are awaiting trial. An unknown number of those are eligible to vote, Elections Administrator Jennifer Anderson confirmed.

Anderson said her office “does have an outreach effort in the jail,” but did not specify further. She noted that since all inmates are not county residents, many vote by mail to other jurisdictions.

She did not respond to questions regarding how many inmates may be receiving ballots, and Lt. Dennis Gutierrez of the Hays County Sheriff’s Office said authorities would have to poll all inmates to come up with that number.

Jail Administrator Capt. Julie Villalpando did not respond to an email seeking further information.

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