RICHMOND, Texas – Fort Bend County Judge KP George held a press conference Friday afternoon to raise awareness of the new election process following the passing of Senate Bill 1 and to address concerns over mail ballot application discrepancies.
The judge was joined by Fort Bend County Elections Administrator John Oldham, Rep. Ron Reynolds and several other county elected officials.
“As our country and county becomes more diverse, it is so important that everybody gets an opportunity to exercise their constitutional right,” George said.
He addressed numerous changes that have happened and directed those who qualify on how to vote by mail.
To apply for a mail-in ballot, you have to be 65 years or older, sick or disabled, out of the country during voting elections, an expectant mother or are being detained in jail.
Since the passing of the bill, the judge said it is important to know that one must submit a request for an application and that the county is not allowed to send out a ballot by mail without solicitation. Voters will have to fill out an application and send it to the county’s elections office.
To fill out an application, you can call the election office or download an application at votetexas.gov.
Judge George expressed his concern over the amount of mail-in ballot applications that are being rejected since the passing of the SB1 bill. So far, county election officials reported at least 50% of ballot applications being rejected compared to the county’s average of 5%.
He said ballot applications are being rejected for many reasons including missing personal information. Applicants must list their Texas driver’s license number, Texas personal identification number, or election identification certificate number on the form. If an applicant does not have one of those numbers, then the form requires the last four digits of their social security number to be written in instead.
Reynolds called the SB1 a “voter suppression bill” that has caused many problems, such as massive confusion among voters and disenfranchisement in the minority community.
He said he will continue to advocate at the state level for everyone to vote, and these issues must be resolved before the primary elections. He said there is a need for Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act to help stop SB1.
Fort Bend County Attorney Bridgette Smith-Lawson said her office is ready to stand in support of the integrity of elections. She said they will ensure that fundamental rights are being protected and freedom of speech at the polls is protected.