Election officials in Harris County, Travis County and Bexar County say they are rejecting a large number of applications for mail-in ballots in the March 1 primary. Counties include Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, respectively.
However, not every voter remembers the number they gave when initially registering to vote, which resulted in the application being denied.
County Communications Director Leah Shah told CNN that Harris County has rejected 208 of 1,276 applications.
Shah described the rejection rate as a “red flag”. She also noted other aspects of the Restricted Voting Act — which includes a provision that prohibits election officials from mailing voting applications that may include information on how to properly fill out applications — meaning voters are getting little help.
Our hands are tied as much as we can and what we cannot say or teach the public about [mail-in ballot applications]Shah said.
Republican Secretary of State John Scott called Travis County’s refusal rate “surprising” before calling for the county to re-examine applications.
“We call on Travis County to immediately review and re-examine the relevant mail-in ballot applications to determine whether they have been processed in accordance with state law, with a view to returning and minimizing any inconvenience to eligible voters who have properly submitted their applications,” Scott said in a statement Friday. Postal ballot applications.
Scott went on to urge county officials to reach out to his office for assistance “on the correct way to process mail-in ballot applications.”
In Bexar County, officials rejected 200 applications that did not have an ID section filled out and another 125 were denied because a voter provided his driver’s license number that was not on file, according to the Tribune.
In other counties, officials are rejecting mail ballots at an alarming rate, too.
Sidney Compton, the absentee coordinator for Denton County, told CNN that voters there are using outdated apps that don’t include an ID section. Compton said the county received fewer than 200 applications and rejected about 50.
The process of reforming voter applications across the state involves election officials sending a rejection letter with an explanation of the missing information along with a new application. Voters can then either submit the new application or correct the information through a new online portal, as directed by the Office of the Secretary of State and election officials.
This is the first election cycle in which the new voting law takes effect after it was enacted last September. The bill was part of a nationwide campaign by Republicans to seize Trump’s lies in the 2020 election to restrict access to the polls.
Texas already has restrictions on who is eligible to receive mail-in ballots. By law, people over the age of 65, out of the county on election day or who have a disability or illness that prevents them from voting in person are eligible.
Voting rights groups are now calling on voters to be proactive in educating themselves about the new voting law.
“In the meantime, we urge all Texans to be advocates for freedom of the vote,” Texas State Associate Administrator Stephanie Gomez said in a statement Friday. “Make a plan to vote and think of contingency plans so that you can still vote even if you encounter one of the obstacles created by SB 1.”