Texas Mail-In Ballot Rejections Skyrocket With New Restrictions

Is this a sign of what’s ahead for voters of color in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections?

In what could be an indication of what’s ahead, an Associated Press analysis found that Texas threw out mail-in ballots at an unusually high rate for its recent primary election. This comes as the Lone Star State and several other GOP-dominated state legislatures have either enacted or are pursuing tougher election rule changes in time for the 2022 midterm elections.

According to the analysis, published on Wednesday (March 16), Texas rejected nearly 23,000 mail ballots for its March 1 primary under its new voting law. That amounts to 13 percent of the mail-in ballots when the typical rejection rate is less than 2 percent.

The rejected ballots were also disproportionately higher in Democratic-leaning counties, 15.1 percent compared to 9.1 percent in Republican counties. Harris County, where Houston is located, had the most ballots thrown out.

Election officials said most of the rejections stemmed from a failure of voters to adhere to the new identification requirements.

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What happened in Texas could replicate itself in other states, as Republican-led legislatures chip away at voting rights. Several of those states, including Georgia and Arizona, are enacting restrictive voting laws targeting voters of color.

Vice President Kamala Harris on March 6 called for a renewed push to pass federal voting rights legislation in a speech to commemorate the 57th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the day in 1965 when white police officers attacked Black voting rights marchers attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

Voting rights activists have urged lawmakers to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which is aimed at fighting voter suppression and restoring enforcement provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Also on the table is the Freedom to Vote Act, which would remove barriers to voting, including allowing all voters to request mail-in ballots. However, Republicans and conservative Democrats in the U.S. Senate have so far blocked efforts to pass voting rights legislation.

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