Usually, a 2 percent response rate is not considered a success, but it is for a Texas pilot program that allows soldiers in combat zones to cast ballots via email. State lawmakers passed a bill in 2013 directing the secretary of state to allow one county in Texas to allow soldiers in hostile fire zones to cast email ballots. Then-Secretary of State John Steen chose Bexar County, home of San Antonio and the 50,000 enlisted military members of Joint Base San Antonio, to be the first for the program.
The office of current Secretary of State Carlos Cascos said that 365 ballots were emailed to soldiers overseas for the November general election. Eight voters, who had to sign affidavits stating they were in a hostile fire zone, emailed the ballots back, said Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen. The number was nearly three times as many as were cast in the March primary, when three ballots out of the 22 sent overseas were returned via email.
“I consider it a huge success,” Callanen said in a recent interview at the Texas Capitol, where she was testifying for a bill that would expand the pilot program to two military-rich counties.
For years, Texas soldiers stationed overseas have been able to request a ballot electronically, but then must print them out, complete their votes and send them in via regular mail, which can take weeks.