Hundreds of Texans rejected to vote by mail

By: Nicholas Ratcliff

Senior Producer 

The recently passed Senate Bill 1 (SB1), which changed the requirements for voting in Texas, has caused issues for Texas counties leading up to the primary election on March 1.

The bill was meant to address voting fraud that was never proven according to the Texan Tribune. Hundreds of vote-by-mail ballots have been rejected.

SB1 changed drastically how Texans can vote by mail. 

It limits who qualifies for mail-in voting, especially compared to previous election cycles. 

The only way to automatically qualify for early voting now is if you are a citizen of Texas who is over 65 years old. If you are under 65, you must apply and be approved to cast your vote by mail. 

But, only certain people are allowed to apply, including Texas citizens suffering from illnesses or disabilities and any Texas citizen out of their county on Election Day. 

While all of this may sound good in theory, counties around Texas have noticed a couple of key issue with the current laws in place. 

Even though the elderly automatically qualify, they still must meet all the requirements by providing their drivers license and social security number for verification.

However, according to the Texas Tribune, this presents a problem because the state does not require its residents to provide both forms of identification when they register to vote. 

This often means that Texas does not have both of these records on file, making it impossible for election officials to verify both records. 

Officials have been forced to reject hundreds of elderly citizens due to the lack of Texas’s records on its own population. 

This has alarmed election officials across the state, many of whom agree with Jacquen Callanen, the Bexar County election official who stated just how disturbing this is.

“Our senior citizens who have relished and embraced voting by mail are now having to jump through some hoops, and its upsetting when we have to send a rejection letter when we can see they’ve voted with us by mail for years,” Callanen told the Texan Tribune.

SB1 also changed other voting options Texas citizens had during the 2020 elections, as reported by the Austin American Statesmen. 

The first option that SB1 addressed was overnight and drive-thru voting in Texas. Overnight voting is now illegal and requires polling place locations to be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

Drive-thru voting has been banned entirely, even though according to the Texas Tribune, over 10% of Harris County, the most populated county in the state, casted their vote using this method. 

SB1 also addressed early voting in Texas. Only minor changes were made to this method of voting, with SB1 expanding the hours the polling places are open from eight hours a day to nine. 

On top of this, SB1 requires these polling places to stay open and allow anyone who showed up before 10 p.m. to vote, regardless of how many people are in front of them. 

SB1 also expanded the powers that partisan poll watchers have while monitoring elections. The bill requires these watchers be allowed to observe without obstruction and move freely around the entire election center. 

Democrats argued watchers could be used to intimidate or persuade voters, which caused Republicans to amend the bill by requiring watchers to attend a training course for certification. 

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