HOUSTON –Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Wednesday responded to rising numbers of rejected mail-in ballot applications and called for federal voting rights legislation.
Hidalgo joins other Democratic leaders, including Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is currently in Washington DC to attend the United States Conference of Mayors, where he is also calling for federal voting rights legislation.
“We recognize that as mayors we represent everyone in our cities, and we recognize that the foundation of democracy is the sacred right to vote,” Turner said. “We can talk about infrastructure, homelessness, public safety and the economy, but the fundamental right to vote is at the heart of all of these issues. Now is the time, and now is the time, and I call on the US Senate to protect voting rights.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Hidalgo blamed Texas voting bill SB 1 for the recent increase in rejected mail-in ballots.
“What we see in Texas should be a warning sign, a call to action and a wake-up call for those in Washington who say they support free elections,” she said.
According to Hidalgo, Harris County is reporting 35% of mail-in ballot requests, which, as a percentage, is seven times the number of ballots reported than before or during a similar midterm cycle.
She said if the numbers hold and the county sees the same number of mail-in ballots as it did in the last midterm elections in 2018, the county would end up rejecting or flagging 27,500 nominations for rejection.
“That’s more than enough potential voters to sway the outcome of an election, and I think the people who passed these laws at the state level and are advocating for them know that’s the case.” , said Hidalgo.
To control the number of denials, Hidalgo said the county is battling in court, fighting to expand voting locations and times, printing mail-in voting locations to provide to registration groups that don’t receive them. not from the state and helps people correct their mail-in ballots so they don’t get thrown out.
“Senate Bill 1 was meant to make it harder to vote, and we won’t let that happen,” Hidalgo said.
The Texas secretary of state said he’s heard from some counties that people are submitting old forms and admits there’s a bit of a learning curve.
“I don’t know where the argument that voter suppression would come from. I think it’s a new system, and I think it’s going to take some time for voters to get used to it,” John Scott, (R)Tx. Second. of State said. Scott suggested that voters provide the two essential pieces of information just to play it safe.
The top three reasons absentee ballots are flagged:
Without social security number
Many mail-in ballots are from campaigns and people don’t feel comfortable sending in sensitive information
Not providing the correct information that was used when registering to vote, such as the correct driver’s license number or the correct social security number
People submit old forms when new forms have changed
Tips to ensure your mail-in ballot is not rejected:
If you are submitting an absentee ballot, be sure to fill in the contact information so the Elections Committee office can contact you.
Produce your voter card early. Also, request an absentee ballot early. The deadline for mail-in ballot requests is February 18.
Finally, don’t be discouraged.
Voters should also remember that the county will no longer offer drive-through voting and 24-hour voting.
Anyone with questions about voter registration cards or mail-in ballots can call the Elections Committee office at 713-755-6965.
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