Hundreds of Texans wanting to vote by mail in the upcoming March primary are having their application for mail-in ballots rejected.
DALLAS — Hundreds of Texans wanting to vote by mail in the upcoming March primary are having their application for mail-in ballots rejected by counties across the state.
And it’s a direct result of the state’s new election law, passed by Republicans last year in Austin. There are new identification requirements and those details are apparently tripping up many a Texan.
Travis County Judge Andy Brown says around 50% of the applications in his county have been rejected so far.
“It’s confusing people. And even if they solve a big part of these rejections, my understanding is still there will be about 15% fewer people that meet the criteria and can vote by mail,” Judge Brown said on Inside Texas Politics.
And it’s not just Travis County. According to the Texas Tribune, Harris County has rejected around 16% of applications received so far. And Bexar County officials have thrown out hundreds of applications as well.
Under the new law, absentee voters must include their driver’s license number or state ID number. If they don’t have either, they can use the last four numbers of their social security. Some voters are leaving that section blank. Others are confusing the numbers or enter a number that can’t be matched by county officials.
There is also at least one new box on the application that voters must check.
Judge Brown says the Travis County Clerk is consulting with the Secretary of State’s office for guidance on ways to lower the number of ballot rejections. And he’s encouraging folks to enter both sets of numbers.
“My understanding of it is if people put both their driver’s license number and the last four of their social, and then there’s an additional box to check that had not been on past forms, that could help with this overall,” said Judge Brown. “So, we’re encouraging people as they fill out these vote-by-mail requests to definitely put their driver’s license, last four of social and make sure that they’ve checked all the boxes that apply.”
Judge Brown also says since the new law wasn’t needed in the first place, he firmly believes it’s voter suppression.
“Yeah, I do. I don’t think there’s any real controversy to it because it is literally making it harder for people to, in this case, request a mail ballot, which is something that people have done for years and years, especially people over 65. And that’s the same group that we’re noticing is now being rejected at a very high rate, up to maybe 50%,” he said.