Thousands of mail-in ballots have been sent back to voters statewide over new identification requirements, the latest in a saga of election troubles linked to Texas’ new voting law.
Early voting is now well underway for the March 1 primary election, as local elections officials juggle that problem alongside their usual responsibilities.
At first, counties were returning mail ballot applications en masse over the ID stipulation, as voters are required to provide the same identification number they used when first registering to vote. Many Texans have written down their driver’s license number when they registered with a Social Security number and vice versa.
Those record rejection rates on the applications have since slowed, but local officials are now encountering the same problem with the mail ballots themselves.
As of Monday, Harris County had sent 38 percent of filled-in ballots back to voters over the new ID requirements. That translates to roughly 2,700 ballots of 7,200 received so far.
Dallas County has also reported higher-than-usual rejection rates, with 26 percent of nearly 1,500 filled-in ballots sent back to voters.
Other counties have reported similar problems over the past several days, with Austin-area counties sending back about 30 percent of ballots for correction.
I will point out again that the Republicans who passed this law could have delayed its implementation until 2023, so as not to disrupt the much-higher turnout elections happening this year, and to give an adequate amount of time for the Secretary of State to produce materials and education county officials, and for county officials to get up to speed and ask their questions and train their volunteers and so forth. They did not choose to do that.
Anyway. Here are your Day Three early voting totals. The table for comparison:
Election Mail Early Total
2018 D 7,641 10,946 18,587
2018 R 11,558 10,781 22,339
2020 D 13,793 17,735 31,528
2020 R 13,944 16,856 30,800
2022 D 4,677 14,064 18,741
2022 R 2,966 17,455 20,421
As a reminder, 2018 final totals are here, and 2020 final totals are here. More Republicans have voted each of the last two days than Democrats, and Republicans are leading overall so far, but Dems are slightly ahead of their 2018 pace while Republicans trail theirs. In 2018 Republicans turned out more heavily in week one than Dems did, though that year that was fueled entirely by mail voting. Dems then turned out more heavily in week 2. So far that pattern is holding, but next week has only four voting days, and every year is different.
One more thing to note is that the total number of mail ballots sent is now at 46,739, with 7,473 ballots being mailed out after Monday. Friday is the last days for mail ballots to be sent, so we’ll know soon what that final tally is. It will almost certainly be less than it was in 2018, it’s just a question of by how much. Still don’t know how many ballots were sent to voters in each party yet.
And hey, if you want a deep dive into the state numbers, the first Derek Ryan email was sent out last night, with data for the first two days of early voting. We now have full statewide numbers for early voting thanks to a law passed in 2019. Ryan is doing most of his comparisons to 2020, and you can see his charts and tables for the Republicans here and the Democrats here. Enjoy!