Texas Ballot Rejection Soars After New Voting Law

Local elections officials in Texas have rejected thousands of absentee ballots based on requirements set forth by the state’s new election law, an alarming jump that threatens to deter some Texans from voting in the primaries on Tuesday.

The state’s Republican and Democratic primaries will be the first to be held since the Republican-led Texas Legislature overhauled the state’s election laws. Elections officials in the most populous counties had rejected about 30% of the absentee ballots they received — more than 15,000 votes — as of Wednesday, according to a review of election data by The New York Times.

Ballots were rejected largely because voters didn’t include their driver’s license numbers or the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, or the numbers they came up with didn’t match what officials had on file. profile. The new identification requirements were introduced by voting legislation passed last year, known as Senate Bill 1.

According to data from the Federal Election Assistance Commission. In 2020, officials rejected 8,304 Texas votes out of a total of nearly one million votes statewide. This year, that number statewide has been surpassed in two counties alone: ​​Harris County and Dallas County have rejected more than 8,600 ballots as of Wednesday.

The Times counted cases of refusal to vote absentee in 10 of 13 counties with more than 400,000 residents. Bexar County, home to San Antonio, has not begun the ballot review process since Wednesday, and Tarrant County and Denton County, near Dallas, were delayed by an ice storm.

The total number of rejected votes is still subject to change. Voters have until Election Day to submit their ballot and up to six days to correct ballot defects, depending on the rejection. In Williamson County outside Austin, for example, officials initially rejected 514 absentee ballots, but 167 of those ballots were corrected and counted as of Tuesday.

The uptick in the number of disqualifications in Texas is the earliest sign that a slew of new election laws passed across the country last year following the 2020 election are taking effect. In the battleground states of Florida and Georgia, Republican legislatures have passed new voting laws with identification requirements for the absentee voting process similar to those in Texas law. Florida and Georgia will hold primaries later this year.

Voters across Texas have flooded voter protection hotlines, seeking guidance or expressing frustration that their absentee ballots were rejected and returned after years of absentee voting. didn’t have any problems.

At the Dallas County Democratic Party headquarters, voters appealed with various issues related to their ballot. The party has been working to help voters as the Tuesday Election Day deadline approaches, including using text messaging to send information about the new requirements to more than 30,000 voters in the county.

“The calls have been pretty constant since last week in January, with confusion about the application process and then frustration about the hiring process,” said Kristy Noble, the Dallas County Democratic Party chair. denied.

However, the complications of absentee voting have had a more limited impact in Texas than in many other states. Texas only allows voters over the age of 65 or who have a verified reason to vote by mail. Although more than a million Texans voted by mail in the 2020 general election, that number is expected to decline this year as regular voter turnout drops midterm.

But with voting by mail limited to older and disabled voters, concerns that rejected ballots would initially disenfranchise voters have grown. Guillermina Nevárez lives at home in the border region of Maverick County with her husband, Alfonso Nevárez Sr., and 98-year-old mother, who is disabled and recovering from recent surgery.

In all three of their ballots, they omitted the field to include their identification, arguing that because their application to vote was accepted, they were free to cast their vote.

“We don’t look at the fine print,” said Ms. Nevárez, the mother of a former Democratic representative. “And there are so many things, fine print.”

She corrected three ballots and mailed them back. She hopes that the information is correct – because of her mother’s condition, they are unable to visit in person to fix any issues.

“It was upsetting,” Ms. Nevárez said.

The Texas law also prohibits voting methods used in the 2020 election because of the pandemic, including passing and 24-hour voting, and erects new barriers for those wants to help voters who need assistance, such as an interpreter.

Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed law in september. The move follows record turnout in the state: 11.3 million people voted in the 2020 election, including more than nine million who voted early.

Mr Abbott’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Earlier, the governor’s office defended the law and blamed local election officials for the high rejection rate of absentee ballot applications.

The Texas secretary of state’s office said it was trying to notify voters of the new changes to prevent anyone with a bounced or rejected ballot.

“We’ve been working over the past month to get information out through multiple channels,” said Sam Taylor, a spokesman for the US secretary of state.

Status seen Unusually high rejection rates for absentee ballot applications earlier this month, as voters grapple with new identification requirements. Now, some voters who had to correct their applications are increasingly worried that their ballot won’t arrive before Tuesday’s primary. Others are deciding to just vote in person.

Nancy Bryant, 67, lives in Dallas and has served as an election judge in previous elections. She filled out her application and was approved, so she submitted her ballot. This week, she learned her ballot had been rejected and county officials would mail it back to her for correction.

But with the primaries fast approaching, Ms. Bryant has yet to receive her ballot as of Friday and she’s not sure if she will get it in time to get it to a polling place on Sunday. Election Day or not. Without her vote, she may be forced to vote provisionally. Either way, her desire to vote absentee collided with the realities of Texas’ new law and the ability to vote in person.

“If I don’t get it back in time, I’ll have to vote provisionally, which is heartbreaking for me,” Ms. Bryant said. “I’m a dedicated voter.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/25/us/politics/texas-primary-ballot-rejections.html Texas Ballot Rejection Soars After New Voting Law

Fry Electronics Team

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