Texas’ sweeping new voting law is already causing election administration woes as the number of mail-in voting applications and ballots skyrockets, The Daily Beast reports.
“Honestly, it’s been an absolute nightmare,” Charlie Bonner, communications director for the voting-rights group MOVE Texas, told the outlet.
Among the many provisions in the bill, voters now have to provide a driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number that must then match the data the state has on file.
But the state does not have the data for hundreds of thousands of voters, and some voters are unaware of the new requirement and not including the information in their applications.
To make matters worse, the new law also bans election officials from sending unrequested mail ballot applications to voters, which means some voters are using outdated forms or may not have updated instructions on how to prevent their ballot applications from being rejected.
In Travis County, about half of the mail-in ballot applications have been rejected.
Other counties have also reported that their rejection rates have gone up exponentially as primary voting gets underway.
Voters are allowed to correct their applications but the process to alert voters differs from county and county and has stretched small county budgets.
Williamson County is also rejecting 25% of the ballots it received.
“It’s real. That’s a higher off-the-bat defect rate than we’ve seen in previous elections,” Election Administrator Chris Davis told the Daily Beast. “And I have little doubt it’s because, well, this is a new law and it’s gonna take some time I think for voters to adapt to it.”
Civil rights groups cry foul:
Civil rights groups criticized the new restrictions for forcing more people to vote in person on Election Day even though some people face physical barriers to voting.
“The idea that someone might still be able to go vote in person as a fail-safe I think ignores the notion that the very individuals who are allowed to vote by mail in Texas are people for whom getting to the polls is perceived to be difficult, if not impossible,” Tommy Buser-Clancy, senior staff attorney at ACLU Texas, told The Daily Beast.
The Justice Department in November sued the state, alleging that the new law could harm voters with disabilities.