Texas Civil Rights Project Voting Rights Program Director Hani Mirza said 22,898 ballots, or 13% of all mail-in ballots, were rejected in the state’s 254 counties. That’s up from the 2% rejection rate of mail-in ballots in the 2018 primaries, he said.
For example, Mirza pointed out that President Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump in Arizona, Wisconsin and Georgia by smaller margins.
“It pains me to say that my colleagues, our partners and I have observed a severe form of voter suppression and mass disenfranchisement not seen in Texas since the days of Jim Crow. as a result of Texas Senate Bill 1,” Mirza said.
Mirza is one of several Texas election leaders who appeared before a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Elections last week to discuss the effects of the state’s new election laws during elections. March primaries.
Texas’ new election law — passed as Senate Bill 1 — requires voters to include their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on ballot applications. They must also provide the same number on their completed ballot. And both times, the numbers must match the information in the individual’s records when they register to vote.
Currently, only Texans 65 and older; absent from the department during the election period or in the event of disability; or illness that would prevent them from voting in person, may vote by mail.
The law was heavily criticized by voting access advocates who said it made it unnecessarily more difficult to vote.
Travis County, home to Austin, has seen a high number of rejections, County Judge Andy Brown said.
Brown said Travis County received 11,602 mail-in ballots in the March primaries and initially had a rejection rate of 16%, but due to the county hiring more staff, he has was able to reduce the number of rejected ballots to around 8% after making 1,200 phone calls. to heal the ballots, Brown said.
He added that Travis County, along with others in the state, have implemented new ways to vote in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which SB 1 has banned.
“SB 1 was a direct result of the Legislature targeting these new and successful innovations that we implemented,” Brown said. “Rather, we should be looking for ways to make it easier and safer for registered voters to exercise their constitutional rights.”
While voting access advocates have focused on disenfranchising voters, GOP-sponsored SB 1 advocates have pointed to Harris County’s election disaster in the March primaries, where 10 000 people went uncounted for days after unofficial results.
Harris County, home to Houston and the most populous county in the state, has Democratic leadership. In the March primaries, about 6,000 Democratic ballots and 4,000 Republicans went uncounted in its unofficial election night tally, Election Administrator Isabel Longoria’s office said at the time. Although the votes were scanned, they were not included when the elections office announced its unofficial results, officials said. The controversy followed an earlier issue where unofficial results were delayed due to damaged ballots.
Longoria has since resigned.
Siegel, with the Harris County GOP, said the issues facing Harris County — including delayed poll openings and the distribution of incorrect ballots — are a veritable form of voter suppression.
“True voter suppression is when more than 10,000 ballots are discovered days after the election and that discovery was only due to the reconciliation report required by SB 1,” Siegel said. “Ms. Longoria, instead of focusing on performing her duties as an election administrator, has spent much of the last year testifying against SB 1.”
Rep. GK Butterfield, DN.C and subcommittee chairman, said the hearing was held so congressional leaders would get a sense of how the primary season process will unfold, as Texas is the first state to commit to the process this cycle. , adding that it is important that the subcommittee performs its oversight duties in a meaningful way.
“For democracy to truly serve the American people, every eligible voter must be able to vote and make that ballot count,” Butterfield said.