Nearly half of Travis County mail ballot apps rejected; state calls for review

Travis County Elections
Photo credit Sergio Flores/Getty Images

AUSTIN ( -- Travis County elections officials say they've been rejecting about half of the applications for mail-in ballots coming in for the upcoming March 1 primary, citing issues with the new restrictions placed on mail-in ballots by the Texas Legislature.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir is set to discuss the issue next week in a news conference.

Under Senate Bill 1, passed by the Legislature last summer and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in September, applications for mail-in ballots are now required to include either the applicant's Driver's License number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. Those numbers are verified against the individual's voter registration record; if there is no match, the application is to be rejected. The law also established new prohibitions on drive-thru voting, 24-hour voting, and elections officials sending unsolicited mail-in ballot applications.

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In a statement released Friday morning, Texas Secretary of State John Scott said his office was "surprised" to learn of the "apparent wholesale rejection of mail ballot applications" by Travis County officials.

"Our office's role to each county, including Travis County, is to be available to provide advice and assistance on implementation of Texas election law upon request," said Scott in the statement. "Nevertheless, Travis County made the decision to reject these mail ballot applications before contacting our office. We call on Travis County to immediately review and re-examine the mail ballot applications in question to determine whether they were processed in accordance with state law, with the goal of reinstating and minimizing any disruption to eligible voters who have properly submitted their application for ballot by mail. We anxiously await the results of their re-processing of these mail ballot applications."

According to state law, you are eligible for a mail-in ballot only if you are 65 years or older, if you are sick or disabled, if you are going to be outside of the county on election day and during the early voting period, expected to give birth within three weeks of election day, or confined in jail but otherwise eligible to vote.

The clerk's office says it hasn't received enough information from the state as to what the office can do to help voters correct their applications.