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Politics

Travis County clerk says half of vote-by-mail applications have been rejected due to new election law

English and Spanish-language sign tell people they can register to vote or apply for a mail-in ballot.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
A table set up by the League of Women Voters at Juan Navarro Early College High School in North Austin in 2020 offers voter registration help.

Lee esta historia en español.

Voter identification requirements created by Texas’ new voting law are forcing local officials to reject a large share of vote-by-mail applications ahead of the March primary election.

The Travis County Clerk’s office said that as of Thursday it “has rejected about fifty percent of applications for ballot by mail that have been received for the March 1, 2022 primary election."

“Many other counties are experiencing the same high rejection rate,” it said in a press release.

Election administrators in San Antonio have rejected 42 of the 80 mail-in ballot applications they've received so far due to new ID requirements, according to the San Antonio Report.

Texas’ new law, Senate Bill 1, requires that voters provide the same ID number — driver's license, Social Security, etc. — on their vote-by-mail application that they provided on their voter registration. Many folks who registered a long time ago may not remember what ID they used. Under the new law, if the ID numbers don’t match, officials must reject the application.

As the bill was being debated, Democratic state lawmakers and voting rights groups warned it would penalize voters for simple mistakes and eventually make it harder for eligible voters to cast a ballot.

When the law went into effect last month, Tommy Buser-Clancy, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Texas, said the law was designed to make it harder to vote.

“You know this seems to be an attempt to suppress individuals from actually going to exercise their right to vote,” he said. “This makes it more important for voters to be educated about what is or is not allowed under the new laws.”

Republican supporters of SB 1 said the law was needed to make it harder for people to cheat in elections, even though there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Texas.

The Travis County Clerk’s office said it is waiting to hear more from state officials about what to do with the rejected ballots.

“At this time, our office does not have enough information regarding the new online cure process to instruct voters how to cure their application with the [secretary of state],” local election officials said in a statement. “Additionally, we have not received instructions from the state outlining what our office can do to assist voters in submitting a completed application.”

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