According to an analysis by The Associated Press, over 27,000 mail ballots in Texas were identified for rejection in the first test of new voting restrictions implemented across the country, risking votes submitted by Democrats and Republicans alike and in counties large and small.
It puts the rate of rejected mail votes in Texas on course to outpace past elections by a wide margin in the coming election.
The preliminary figures, which were reported by Texas counties after votes were counted in the state’s March 1 primary, provide the most complete picture to date of how new election rules rushed into place by Republicans following the 2020 election made it more difficult for thousands of voters of both parties to participate in the election.
Some people’s votes will not be counted at all as a result of this.
In a typical election, mail ballots that are returned as undeliverable are rare. However, according to county-by-county numbers obtained by the Associated Press, the initial rejection percentage among mail voters in the Texas primary was almost 17 percent across 120 counties.
Nearly 3 million voters in Texas’ first-in-the-nation primary came from those counties, constituting the vast majority of the state’s nearly 3 million voters.
Although the ultimate number of discounted ballots may be lower, early indications are that Texas’ rejection percentage will be far higher than in the 2020 general election, when federal data revealed that fewer than 1 percent of mail ballots were rejected across the state.
After three attempts and 28 days, Pamiel Gaskin, 75, of Houston was able to obtain his ballot and participate in the election. She was one of many mail voters who were disqualified because they did not provide a matching identification number, as required by Texas’ new statute.
For the time being, the numbers do not accurately reflect the amount of Texas ballots that were effectively tossed away.
Voters had until Monday to “fix” their rejected postal votes, which in most cases involved giving identification, which is now needed under a sweeping statute signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott last year and signed into law by President Donald Trump.
The carrier-envelope for the ballot must now carry an identification number — either a driver’s license number or a Social Security number — in addition to the voter’s signature. The number must match the one on file with the county.
The ballot was rejected, and the voter was unable to vote because of it. Voters may correct the problem in person at the county’s election offices, or they could vote with a provisional ballot on election day.
County election officials have stated that they worked diligently to contact those voters in time, and in many cases, they were successful. A complete and final total of rejected ballots in Texas is anticipated to be released in the coming days.
But already, a large number of mail ballots have been permanently rejected.
El Paso County, near the Texas border, announced that 725 postal ballots were formally rejected and not tallied after a final canvass was completed on Monday. This represents around 16 percent of all mail ballots cast.
Five hundred and twenty-one ballots were rejected in Williamson County, located in the expanding suburbs of Austin. The rejected ballots were roughly evenly divided between Republican and Democratic primary voters.