Mail-in ballot applications being rejected at alarming rate, voting rights advocates say

Harris County has increased it’s rejection rate by almost 700%.

The mail-in ballots were rejected under new voting rules in Texas

Harris County, TX. – With the March 1 Primary Election about six weeks away, now is a good time to check the status of your mail-in ballot application.

As next month’s deadline looms closer, voting rights advocates said confusion is leading to a large number of rejections. That agency, along with Harris County election officials, blame changes made by Senate Bill 1, which now requires voters to put their driver’s license or social security number on an application.

“Voters just don’t want to do it. They say, ‘I feel uncomfortable sending that kind of sensitive information over mail,’” said Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria.

Or, they’re providing information that doesn’t match what the county has on record.

Either way, Harris County has increased its rejection rate by almost 700%.

“Of the about 1,200 mail-in ballot applications we have received, we are having to reject or kind of send back 208 of those for corrections or other issues. That’s pretty high,” Longoria said.

Compare that to the same time frame in 2018, the last time the area had a Primary Election. Of the 4.826 applications received, 121 were rejected.

“We knew this was happening, and I don’t take any joy in saying, ‘I told you so,’” said Stephanie Gomez with Common Cause Texas.

Common Cause Texas, which has been fighting for equity for voter’s rights, is ramping up its efforts to work with voters who need help with their ballot applications.

“We have been doing election protection work for years now. That is a resource that exists for our partners,” Gomez said.

If your application is rejected, expect to receive a phone call or email from Harris County along with a rejection letter requesting the correct information.

“We try to follow up,” Longoria said. “We go above and beyond, jumping through those hoops so voters don’t have to.”

Voters who need assistance can call Common Causes’ nonpartisan election protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.

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