Texas mail ballot rejections soar with new restrictions

Texas mail ballot rejections
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Texas mail ballot rejections soar with new restrictions

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas mail ballot rejections are at an abnormally high rate during the nation’s first primary of 2022, rejecting nearly 23,000 ballots outright under tougher voting rules that are part of a broad campaign by Republicans to reshape American elections, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

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Roughly 13% of mail ballots returned in the March 1 primary were discarded and uncounted across 187 counties in Texas. While historical primary comparisons are lacking, the double-digit rejection rate would be far beyond what is typical in a general election, when experts say anything above 2% is usually cause for attention.

“My first reaction is ‘yikes,’” said 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 seriously wrong with the way that the mail ballot policy is being administered.”

Republicans promised new layers of voting rules would make it “easier to vote and harder to cheat.” But the final numbers recorded by AP lay bare the glaring gulf between that objective and the obstacles, frustration and tens of thousands of uncounted votes resulting from tighter restrictions and rushed implementation.

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

The unusually high rejection rate to start America’s midterm election season is expected to put more attention on changes to the ballot box elsewhere in the country. Texas’ election was the debut of more restrictive voting rules the GOP raced to put on the books across the U.S. in time for the midterm elections, a push that took particular aim at mail voting that soared in popularity during the pandemic.

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At least 17 other states in the coming months will cast ballots under tougher election laws, in part driven by Trump’s baseless and persistent claims of rampant fraud in the 2020 election. The rejected ballots in Texas alone far exceeds the hundreds of even possible voter fraud cases the AP has previously identified in six battleground states that Trump disputed.

Texas mail ballot rejections soar under new restrictions  The Associated Press – en Español

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