CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Just like their stances on political issues, the Nueces County chapters of the Republican and Democratic Parties disagree on whether concerns about COVID-19 possibly spreading at polling places will lead to more people voting by mail.
State law only allows certain voters to cast their ballots by mail. To be eligible, a voter must be 65 years old or older, disabled, in jail, or out of the country during the early voting period and on Election Day.
“All in all, I don’t see much of a change,” Nueces County Republican Party Chairman Jim Kaelin said.
Nueces County Democratic Party "Get Out The Vote" Chairperson Becky Moeller, however, said she expects a larger number of people opting to absentee vote.
“I think people — because of the COVID(-19) — is one reason they’re looking to vote by mail," she said. "And another thing is, we’re an aging population in South Texas, and a lot of folks are over 65 and want to take advantage of their right to vote by mail."
Simply being concerned about possibly contracting the novel coronavirus does not make a voter eligible -- which doesn't sit well with some.
"I wish we had it for anyone who’s afraid to get out because of the COVID (-19),” Moeller said.
If there is an increase in mail-in voting, the local Ballot Board -- a committee of 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats -- will be tasked with checking each mail-in ballot for validity. It's one thing the parties do agree on: They are not concerned about the board being overwhelmed by the number of ballots needing verification.
“I don’t see any indication that the Ballot Board won’t be able to (inspect all ballots)," Kaelin said.
If the number of ballots becomes a problem, the board has options.
“They can go up to the county commissioners as an emergency and get additional people added if it’s a monumental task that can’t be done," Moeller said.
And there's one more thing the two parties agree on.
“We’re looking forward to a cohesive, fair way for everyone’s vote to be counted in November,” Moeller said.
“We will duly again elect a President of the United States either (Republican or Democrat), and our system of government will prevail," Kaelin said.