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Voting Rights for All Texans

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

According to the Texas Tribune, the changes to our voting laws enacted in the last session of the Texas Legislature resulted in the total rejection of 24,636 mail-in ballots cast by Texans in the March 1, 2022, primary election. In McLennan County alone, our Election’s Office reports that 160 mail-in ballots were rejected. In Texas, the only individuals who can cast a vote by mail are voters who are over 65 years of age, are disabled, are out of the county during the entire voting period, are incarcerated or are in the final three weeks of their pregnancy as of Election Day. The vast majority of mail-in ballots are cast by elderly or disabled Texans. It is crushing to realize that, according to the Texas Tribune, one out of every eight mail-in ballots cast by elderly and disabled Texans in the March 2022 primary was rejected due to the new election laws. This sad fact is true in spite of the fact that there is not one drop of evidence that elderly or disabled voters cheat when they vote.

Voting Rights for All Texans

When you register to vote in Texas, you give your local Elections’ Office your Driver’s License and/or your Social Security number. When you request a mail-in or absentee ballot you also give them your Driver’s License and/or Social Security number. When you cast a vote by mail, you are asked for those same numbers. Often elderly or disabled voters who no longer drive may not have access to their Texas Driver’s License. You can get a Texas Identification Number but it requires some effort and the local Elections Office does not have access to that data in order to approve your mail in ballot. The numbers that you put on your ballot must match the number(s) that you have gave the Elections Office on your mail-in ballot application and the numbers on the mail-in ballot application must be vetted against the data in the Elections Office and Secretary of State’s databases. If they differ and cannot be reconciled, your ballot will be rejected.

In McLennan County, volunteers from both parties and the employees of the McLennan County Election’s Office called and wrote the many voters who recently cast these rejected ballots. However, in Texas the only sure way to fix a problem with a mail-in ballot is to physically come to your local Election’s Office and correct the problem in person. Many of the rejected ballots in the March primary election were cast by nursing home residents who could not travel. Other voters with rejected ballots were bed ridden, suffering from illnesses, out of town or recovering from surgeries, and also could not travel to the Election’s Office. It is really ridiculous that due to these recent changes in our election laws passed in the last legislative session, problems with mail-in ballots cannot be cured by mail, especially when those ballots are cast by elderly and disabled voters who frequently have mobility problems. In some instances, it is possible to fix the discrepancy online, but you have to have both identification numbers previously vetted in the Secretary of State database.

If your mail-in ballot was rejected in the March 1st primary or the March 24th local election, you can thank our State Representative Doc Anderson. Over heavy opposition and overwhelming testimony from the disabled and elderly community and election workers and officials, Doc Anderson voted for S.B. 1, the law that created this problem and disenfranchised so many elderly and disabled Texans.

Our next election is on November 8, 2022. Early voting starts on October 24, 2022 and runs through November 4, 2022. Due to this high rejection rate of mail-in ballots, if you are able to vote in person, please do so. Alternatively, a non-partisan group has arranged for free and safe “rides to the polls” for any voter - Republican, Democrat or Independent - during both the early voting period and on Election Day. They will also be available to give voters a ride to the Elections Office to fix your ballot. Call 254-749-7332 to arrange for a ride. Curbside voting can occur for disabled and elderly voters who utilize this service. Finally, voters with Texas Identification Cards can submit new voter registration cards with their Texas Identification Numbers noted, so that their ballots will not be rejected. However, those new registration cards must be received by the Election’s Office before October 11, 2022, in order for that voter to be able to vote using those new identification numbers in the November 8, 2022 election.

I personally would like to apologize to all of the elderly and disabled voters whose ballots were rejected due to this voter suppression that our current State Representative voted for even though hundreds of Texans testified against it. I personally attended those hearings and my heart broke as I watched disabled Texans literally beg the Texas Legislature not to make it harder for them to vote. Please remember to vote for Erin Shank for Texas House on November 8th because this is one of the many reasons that We Deserve Better representation in the Texas House.

Published in the Waco Tribune-Herald on 9/25/2022


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