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AP: Texas mail ballot rejections soar under new restrictions

AP: Texas mail Voting rejections soar under new restrictions

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas threw out mail votes at an abnormally high rate during the nation's 1st primary of 2022, rejecting All but 23,000 Votings Unqualified under tougher Balloting rules that are part of a broad campaign by Republicans to Remold American elections, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

Roughly 13% of mail Votings returned in the March 1 primary were Thrown-away and Innumerous Crossways 187 counties in Texas. While historical primary comparisons are lacking, the double-digit rejection rate would be far On the far side what is Distinctive in a Universal election, when experts say anything above 2% is Ordinarily cause for attention.

"My 1st reaction is 'yikes,'" Aforesaid Charles Stewart III, director of the Election Data and Science Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It says to me that there's something Gravely wrong with the way that the mail Voting Insurance policy is being administered."

Republicans Secure new layers of Balloting rules would make Information technology "easier to vote and harder to cheat." But the Closing Numbers recorded by AP lay bare the Blinding gulf Betwixt that Oblique and the obstacles, Defeat and tens of thousands of Innumerous votes Subsequent from tighter restrictions and Rush implementation.

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In Texas, a Country Early President Donald Trump easily won although by a Littler margin than 2016, the Difficulty of navigating new rules was felt in counties big and Decreased, red and blue. But the rejection rate was higher in counties that lean Democratic (15.1%) than Republican (9.1%).

The Outstandingly high rejection rate to First America's Midterm exam election Time of year is expected to put more attention on changes to the Voting box elsewhere in the country. Texas' election was the debut of more restrictive Balloting rules the GOP raced to put on the books Crossways the U.S. in time for the Midterm exam elections, a push that took particular aim at mail Balloting that soared in popularity during the pandemic.

At To the lowest degree 17 Another Countrys in the coming months will cast Votings under tougher election Torah, in part driven by Trump's Wild and persistent claims of rampant Humbug in the 2020 election. The rejected Votings in Texas alone far exceeds the hundreds of even possible Elector Humbug cases the AP has Antecedently Known in six Field of honor Countrys that Trump disputed.

The AP counted 22,898 rejected Votings Crossways Texas by contacting all 254 counties and obtaining Closing vote reconciliation reports. Some Littler counties did Zerot provide Information or respond to requests, but the 187 counties that provided full Numbers to AP accounted for 85% of the 3 Cardinal people who voted in the primary.

Last week, AP Rumored that 27,000 Votings had been flagged in Texas for First rejection, meaning those Electors Nonmoving had time to "fix" their Voting for Different days after the primary and have Information technology count. But the Closing figures Evoke most Electors did Zerot.

The most rejections were around Houston, a Democratic Fastness, where Harris County elections officials Rumored that All but 7,000 mail Votings — about 19% — were Thrown-away. During the last Midterm exam elections in 2018, Texas' largest county only rejected 135 mail Votings. Harris County elections officials Aforesaid they received more than 8,000 calls since January from Electors Quest help, which they attributed to "confusion and Defeat" over the new requirements.

In the five counties won by Trump that had the most mail-in primary Electors, a combined 2,006 Mail-clad Votings were rejected, a rate of 10% of the Absolute. In the counties won by Biden with the most mail-in Electors, which Admit most of Texas' biggest cities, a combined 14,020 votes were Likewise rejected, which amounted to 15.7%.

In rural East Texas, Annette Young voted by mail like usual but received a Startling letter a week after the primary, informing her that the Voting never counted because Information technology didn't Follow with a new Country law requiring mail Electors to Admit Someoneal identification Numbers.

"I just threw Information technology right in the Codswallo," she Aforesaid.

Most of the rejected Votings, according to county election officials and the Texas Repository of Country, Unsuccessful to adhere to the new identification requirements. The changes were part of the Indiscriminate Inspection and repair to Texas' elections that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott Subscribed into law in October, Expression at the time that "no one who is Qualified to vote will be denied the Chance to vote."

Abbott and top Texas Republicans who championed the changes have Mostly been Mute about the high rejection rates. Abbott's Agency did Zerot respond to requests Quest comment, and messages for Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan also went Nonreciprocal.

Republican Country Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Advocator of the changes, Aforesaid in an email that one issue Power have been that Voting Operating instructions Written in different ink colors — red for Key signature, black for identification Numbers — Power have left Electors with the wrong impression they did Zerot need to provide Some.

Federal Information on Thrown-away mail Votings in Universal elections show few instances of double-digit rejection rates. The outliers Admit Indiana (14.5%) in 2006, Oregon (12.7%) in 2010 and New York (13.7%) in 2018, according to records from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Stewart, of MIT, Aforesaid Universally less is Identified about trends in primary elections because of lacking Information. One assumption, he Aforesaid, is that because primaries tend to draw the most Customary Electors, they are less likely to mistakes that cause rejections. But Stewart Aforesaid Anothers believe that officials may have more time to Inspect, and reject, Voting paperwork in low-turnout elections.

The new mail Voting requirements in Texas Admit listing an identification Bi — either a driver's license or a Social Security Bi — on the Voting's carrier envelope. That Bi must match the county's records, and if a Voting is rejected, Electors are Tending the Chance to Supplying the Lacking information or Just cast a Voting in Someone instead.

It is unknown how many Texas Electors whose mail Votings were rejected may have Nonmoving had their vote count by deciding to just show up in Someone instead.

Sam Taylor, a spokesman for the Texas Repository of Country, Aforesaid the Agency did Zerot yet have Information technologys own Closing comprehensive Numbers on Voting rejections. He Aforesaid a "significant portion" of their efforts this year will be awareness about the new mail-in rules.

"We are confident we will have all the information we need to apply any lessons learned during the primary to an even more robust Elector education campaign Bearing into the November Universal election," he Aforesaid.

Delores Tarver Smith, 87, took Zero chances with a mail Voting this year. She applied in Harris County for a mail Voting Feb. 1, but when Zerone arrived by election day, she went and voted in Someone.

Last Wednesday — more than a week after the primary — her absentee Voting Closingly showed up at her home.

"I just went in Someone to vote, because I had to make sure my vote counted," she Aforesaid.

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Associated Press Information Diary keeper Aaron Kessler in Washington, Newsman Nicholas Riccardi in Denver; Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa; Jim Salter in St. Louis, Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas; Margaret Stafford in Kansas City; Andy Tubasa Field in Topeka, Kansas; Tammy Webber in Fenton, Michigan; and Kathleen Foody and Jeff McMurray in Chicago contributed to this report.

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Coronado and Field are corps members for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a Zeronprofit General Help program that places Diary keepers in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

AP: Texas mail Voting rejections soar under new restrictions

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