According to the state, 24,636 ballots in Texas were discarded in the March 1 primary election, largely due to confusion surrounding new voter ID regulations.
The office of the Texas secretary of state said 12.38% of primary ballots were rejected, up from about 1% last year, the Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday. Reports of an abnormally high number of rejected ballots circulated in the weeks after the primary, but the state shed light on the full extent of the problem this week.
Texas’ Republican-controlled legislature sent a set of tough voting restrictions to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s office last year following a dramatic swipe by elected Democrats to block legislation leaving the state en masse . Dozens of Texas House Democrats traveled to Washington, DC, to urge lawmakers to pass nationwide suffrage protections.
But those bills are stalled in the US Senate, where two Democratic senators are still refusing to change the filibuster rules to circumvent the Republican filibuster. Amid the threat of arrest, enough Texas Democrats returned to the state by late summer to build a quorum, and Abbott signed the ballot law into law in September.
Now we see the effects.
“The only reason the rejection rate has climbed so high is because Senate Bill 1 imposed this new ID requirement and disenfranchised eligible voters,” the lawyer said. of the Texas Civil Rights Project, James Slattery.
Even country music legend Willie Nelson had trouble – his wife told the American statesman from Austin that she and Nelson made two attempts before their ballots were finally accepted.
In some counties, NPR reported, up to 40% of ballots were initially flagged for rejection.
Texans can only vote by mail if they meet certain conditions, such as being over 65, having an illness or disability, being within three weeks of giving birth, or being absent during the early voting period and on polling day.
Voters should apply for an absentee ballot, listing either a driver’s license number or a partial Social Security number on both the application and the outer envelope. These numbers must also appear on the ballot paper itself and they must match the voter registration records.
Abbott had promised the new rules would “make it easier for people to go out and vote.” He secured his party’s gubernatorial nomination in the primary and is set to face Democrat Beto O’Rourke in November.
AARP Texas Director Tina Tran called the widespread ballot rejections “deeply disturbing.”
“Rejections of votes of this proportion could significantly vary the results of national and local elections. These ballot rejections could also be just the tip of the iceberg of problems encountered at the polls, as there have also been reports of widespread rejections of ballot applications,” Tran said.
Texas was one of 19 states to pass new voting restrictions in 2021 as part of a GOP campaign to tackle a fictitious voter fraud problem.