January 14, 2022 – Amid news reports that at least two counties are having to reject about half of mail ballot applications, Common Cause Texas is urging voters to check the status of their applications and re-apply, if necessary, before next month’s deadline. There is currently no clear process for “curing” applications that have been rejected.
The Travis County Clerk’s office attributed the high rejection rate to changes made by SB 1, the voter suppression bill enacted last fall.
In 2020, almost a million Texans voted by mail. To be eligible to vote early by mail in Texas, the voter must be 65 years or older; sick or disabled; out of the county on election day and during the period for in-person early voting; expected to give birth within three weeks before or after Election Day; or confined in jail, but otherwise eligible to vote.
Voters who have applied for a mail ballot can check their status online at https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov/BallotTrackerApp/#/login. Voters who do not have internet access can call their county clerk’s office for information.
For voters planning to vote by mail in the March 1 primary election, the deadline for mail ballot applications to be received by the county’s Early Voting Clerk is Friday, February 18, 2022.
Statement of Common Cause Texas Associate Director Stephanie Gómez
We said SB 1 was going to make it harder for Texans to vote – and now we’re seeing the proof.
This problem was intentionally designed, and targeted at some of our state’s most vulnerable voters, including seniors and disabled people. And as things stand now, about half of those voters are being blocked from having their voices heard.
If this isn’t fixed, this single provision of SB 1 could block up to a half-million Texans from voting by mail this year.
And there are so many other provisions – regarding ballot boxes and early voting; giving new powers to partisan poll watchers; limiting county election officials’ ability to adopt safe and secure methods of voting.
Time will tell how many Texans will be affected by the whole of SB1.
In the meantime, we urge all Texans to be your own advocates for your freedom to vote. While the politicians in charge are determined to make it as hard as possible to vote, Common Cause Texas is ramping up our Texas-sized election protection to ensure our communities can make their voice heard at the ballot box. Voters who need assistance with their ballot applications or other voting issues can call the nonpartisan Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.
But we also recommend that every voter should check your voter registration. Check the status of your ballot application and your mail ballot. Check the location of your polling place. Make a plan to vote and think about contingency plans so that you can still vote even if you hit one of the barriers that were created by SB 1.
A ‘government by the people’ should encourage people to participate – not create barriers to keep people from voting.
But this is the reality in Texas right now. And every voter in Texas needs to know that.