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Texas rejects hundreds of mail ballot applications under new voting limits -Breaking

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© Reuters. Dana DeBeauvoir, Travis County Clerk, speaks with the media. Officials from Travis County stated that half of all vote-by-mail requests for March primaries were denied due to Texas’ new voting law SB1. The announcement was made in Austin, Texas on January 18, 2022. R

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Joseph Ax

(Reuters) – Texas election officials rejected hundreds of applications for mail-in ballots. They were following a Republican-backed law, just weeks before the March 1 primary begins this year.

“My friends, that is how voter suppression looks like,” Dana DeBeauvoir, Democrat from Travis County, stated to reporters on Tuesday.

According to DeBeauvoir who retired at the end of the month, the county is Austin’s home. It invalidated around 300 applications due to people not meeting the stricter requirements for identification.

Lawmakers in Texas approved a raft of voting restrictions last year, one of many efforts in Republican-controlled states to pass new limits after former President Donald Trump falsely claimed he lost the 2020 election because of widespread fraud.

Democrats in Congress this week renewed their push to pass sweeping voting rights legislation https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-democrats-start-voting-rights-showdown-with-no-clear-path-victory-2022-01-18 that would overturn limits such as the Texas law, but the effort appears doomed in the face of united Republican opposition.

The Texas bill caused some Democratic legislators in Texas to run for their lives, trying to keep the House of Representatives without the quorum required to pass the law. But they ultimately gave up.

Greg Abbott, Republican Governor of Texas, signed the bill on September 21st and is currently running for re-election.

Texas was sued by the U.S. Justice Department for its law, claiming it is discriminatory and disenfranchises voters. Democrats argue that these restrictions discriminate against Black voters as well as other minorities, who have traditionally supported Democratic candidates.

The law also requires that voters who apply for mail ballots must provide either a driver’s license or a Social Security number. This number must be the same as the one they used when they first registered to vote.

DeBeauvoir explained that this leaves voters in a “guessing” game because most people can’t recall the original number and voters don’t have an easy way to confirm.

Harris County which encompasses Houston had rejected 409 applications for ID problems as of Friday, including 309 missing ID number and 173 that do not match what was on file.

Jacquelyn callanen, the elections administrator in Bexar County where San Antonio is located, said that more than 300 of 1,200 applicants had been rejected by officials last week. The new ID requirements accounted for around 80%.

She said that other provisions of the law also create obstacles. In an effort to make it easier for voters, Callanen explained that the previous sticker that was attached to voter addresses on applications sent by the office to them is now prohibited.

It also bans residents from making applications for relatives or other individuals. Callanen stated that her office receives regular messages from seniors asking for votes for their spouses. However, the law requires spouses to make separate requests.

“It’s almost like thwarting me at every turn,” she stated.

Texas mail ballots are severely limited. They can only be sent to certain categories: residents over 65, residents with disabilities, and voters who cannot vote in their counties during election day and early voting.

DeBeauvoir claimed that the office of Secretary John Scott did not provide enough direction to local officials regarding how to cure voter defects.

Sam Taylor, Scott’s spokesperson, responded that state officials had reached out to Travis County to provide guidance on how to proceed. He also noted that Travis County’s rejection rate dropped from 50% to 27% after receiving that direction.

He stated that clerks were instructed to take applications from voters who have provided both their license number and Social Security Number, so long as the one matches the other.

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