With several critical primary elections happening across the country this week, advocates are working as newly-imposed election laws get put to the test. In Texas, some voting rights advocates are calling the situation "an absolute nightmare."
Primary elections are taking place to narrow the number of candidates running for an office at the local and state levels typically so that a nominee for each political party can be determined ahead of the general election.
Thousands of Texas voters who submitted mail-in ballots are getting theirs rejected because of the new election law –– SB 1 –– that went into effect at the end of last year.
Under SB1, voters are required to submit a driver's license number or the last four digits of their Social Security Number along with their mail-in ballot and that number has to match what's on file with the state. The rule, advocates say, is causing the wave of ballot rejections.
"Honestly, it's been an absolute nightmare," Charlie Bonner, director of communications for MOVE Texas, a voting rights group, told The Daily Beast. Election officials in Harris County –– the state's most populous county that includes Houston –– confirmed they're seeing an 11% rejection rate. Last month, Travis County rejected roughly half of their mail-in ballots, the Texas Tribune reported.
"The concern is that there are too many hurdles for voters to go through," Leah Shah, Harris County elections spokesperson told The Hill. Shah said some voters are not used to disclosing personal information like a SSN on a ballot, and given the short turnaround for the new law, many voters aren't aware of the fine print and changes to state elections.
Primary Elections Across the Country
Getting to the polls and getting your ballot in doesn't end at the General election or even the midterms. Elections at the city, county, and state levels have far-reaching impact on day-to-day lives –– from school boards, to city council members, mayors, sheriffs, district attorneys, and more, these elections are critical, too.
Click HERE to learn more about the primary elections happening in your state now and in the coming weeks.