AUSTIN (Nexstar) — We’ve been digging deeper into why 13% of mail-in ballots were rejected in the March Texas primary.
The Texas Secretary of State’s Office told us most happened because voters didn’t provide any identification on their carrier envelopes. Thirteen percent statewide amounts to more than 23,000 votes that were never counted.
For perspective: in a smaller, more conservative county, Potter, home to Amarillo, more than 16% — roughly one out of every six voters — had their ballots rejected.
In Austin, it was a little better at 8%. But if you think about it, that’s still roughly one out of every 12 people who voted by mail who had their ballots rejected.
At first, Pam Robers, of Travis County, experienced issues first hand.
“It’s notice of carrier defect,” Robers said, showing Capitol Correspondent Jala Washington her alert her ballot was rejected.
She got an email from an address she didn’t recognize.
“Then you scroll down, and it says your carrier envelope did not contain your driver’s license number,” Robers said.
She voted early, so she still had time to fix it.
“There were lots of hurdles to try and to make this happen,” Robers said. “Instructions that weren’t clear, telling you to do one thing in the tracking system, then if you did, it wouldn’t work. It’s no wonder a lot of people’s votes were rejected or weren’t counted.”
Robers knows others weren’t as fortunate as her in being able to correct mistakes. Sam Taylor with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office said they plan to make the process more clear.
“It’s a very easy mistake to fix,” Taylor said. “We’re looking at ways that we can highlight that section [where personal identification information is required], draw more attention to it for mailing voters and also engage in a more robust voter education campaign statewide, including TV advertisements. We’ve already run radio advertisements, digital advertisements, billboards. We’re looking to get feedback from a lot of the major counties, with small, medium and large-sized counties, to share best practices.”
Grace Chimene, president of The League of Women Voters of Texas, feels more awareness should’ve been spread upfront. She’s also now working to educate voters, but she wonders if that’ll be enough.
“Really what needs to happen is this legislation that created this problem needs to be fixed,” Chimene said. “This is not necessary.”
The Texas voting website does detail the new mail-in process, though Robers questions how useful that’ll be for elderly people like her.
“It would have been nice to have more time to get the public educated,” Robers said.
The law isn’t going anywhere, at least for now. On Wednesday, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of Texas in three separate legal challenges.
The U.S. 5th Circuit said the civil rights and political groups challenging the mail-in ballot provisions and elimination of straight-ticket voting sued the wrong entity.
The judges ruled they can’t sue the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, because it is not responsible for enforcing the challenged laws.