Texas quickly shows the impact GOP voting restrictions can have

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
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When Republican state legislatures across the country moved to add a raft of new voting restrictions after the 2020 election, a vein of contrarianism ran through some of the analysis. While the states were undoubtedly making it more difficult to vote in response to false claims of widespread voter fraud — and Democrats warned of damage done to democracy — some wagered that it seemed unlikely to have a large impact on election results.

Well, in very short order, the first state to hold a 2022 primary — Texas — has now shown just how big of an impact it can have.
The good news, to the extent there is some, is that it seems like a problem that could be largely fixed in relatively short order, if the will exists.

As The Washington Post reported before Texas’s March 1 primary, it’s been evident for more than a month that the state was experiencing very high levels of mail ballot rejections. And over the past week, we’ve learned a bunch of new details. At first, it was data from a few counties. But now, the Associated Press has crunched the numbers more or less statewide — obtaining data from 187 out of 254 counties, accounting for 85 percent of all ballots cast — and found some rather striking figures.


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The top-line number is that 13 percent of all mail-in ballots — about 1 of every 8 — wound up being rejected. The vast majority of them were rejected because voters failed to meet the new ID requirements.
Rejected mail ballots, confused voters: Texas’s restrictive new law casts shadow over primary
How unusual is that number? It’s difficult to compare it to other primaries, because ballot rejection rates aren’t so readily accessible for primaries. But if you compare it to general elections, it becomes clear it’s a massive number. In the last three federal general elections, mail ballot rejection rates have been between 0.8 percent and 1.4 percent.

In addition, the highest mail ballot rejection rate of any state in the 2020 election was Arkansas’s 6.4 percent. The number in Texas’s 2022 primary was double that.

The AP reports that only a few states compare to Texas’s rejection rate in any general election this century, according to data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission: Indiana in 2006 (14.5 percent), New York in 2018 (13.7 percent) and Oregon in 2010 (12.7 percent).


Now we get to how much such a thing could matter — beyond people who thought they had voted not having their votes counted, of course.
The first thing we can say is that, relative to many other states, mail ballots just aren’t as big a piece of the electoral puzzle in Texas. That’s in large part because it restricts who can use them to those 65 and older, those who have disabilities and a few other categories. Out of more than 3 million votes in Texas’s Republican and Democratic primaries, fewer than 250,000 were cast by mail. If the 13 percent rejection rate held constant across all 254 counties, that would mean about 31,000 votes being rejected, or almost exactly 1 percent of all ballots.

What we can also say with a pretty high degree of certainty, though, is that it’s likely this hurts Democrats more, for a couple of reasons.


One is that the data have generally shown higher rejection rates in bigger — i.e. more urban and generally more Democratic — counties. The rejection rate in the state’s most-populous county, Houston-based Harris County, was 19 percent. In San Antonio-based Bexar County, it went up to 22 percent. At the same time, it’s not uniform. For example, Dallas County went for President Biden by even more than Harris and Bexar (giving him 65 percent), and it had a significantly lower rejection rate of 6.5 percent.
So it wasn’t initially clear that Democratic areas had higher rejection rates overall. But now it is.

All told, AP reports that the five most mail-ballot-heavy counties that went for President Donald Trump in 2020 had a rejection rate of 10 percent, while the five that went for President Biden had a 15.7 percent rejection rate.


There’s also the matter of just how many more Democrats vote by mail. In the 2022 primary, 1 in every 8 Democratic votes was by mail, compared to 1 in every 19 Republicans.
So if mail ballots are being rejected at a higher rate overall, it stands to reason that costs Democrats more. Layer on top the higher rejection rates in bigger Democratic counties, and it seems quite likely what’s happening.
At least to some extent. In Harris County, for example, Republican mail ballots were actually rejected at higher rates than Democratic ones — 20.4 percent to 17.7 percent. And it’s possible that that’s the case in other counties. But the higher overall rate of Democratic mail voting is again key. Even in Harris, with its slightly higher rejection rate for Republican mail ballots, Democrats’ higher use of mail ballots overall meant 2.2 percent of all their votes were rejected mail ballots, compared with 1.6 percent for Republicans.







The question from there is whether this will be a persistent problem moving forward — and, particularly if you’re a Democrat, how much that could hurt your side in actual Republican-vs.-Democrat elections. The good news is that these rates should come down, at least to some degree.
The reason: In many of these places, the main problem wasn’t just people failing to meet the ID requirements; it was people failing to provide any ID information at all. The Texas Tribune reported last week that this accounted for most of the rejected ballots in Dallas County, for instance. And a spokesman for the Texas secretary of state told The Post that this was also true statewide, suggesting perhaps this is largely about poor design and a lack of adequate voter education.
“All of these voters successfully received a mail-in ballot using ID information for the application, which means for the most part the rejections are because the voter simply forgot to include the ID information on the carrier envelope,” Taylor said. “We’re looking at a design fix to make sure that section is highlighted in some way, and also more voter education through our ad campaign.”
Time will tell just how well the problem is addressed. But if there’s one thing the results in Texas reinforce, it’s that these kinds of restrictions can result in lots of qualified voters having their votes go uncounted.

 

Keehawk

HR All-American
May 24, 2011
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Compares to Indiana, New York, and Oregon. I didn't know those states also had "Gop voting restrictions". Hmmm, learn something new every day.
 
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globalhawk

HR All-American
Dec 16, 2003
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Compares to Indiana, New York, and Oregon. I didn't know those states also had "Gop voting restrictions". Hmmm, learn something new every day.
I agree that there have been a lot of election changes that won’t affect elections. This is definitely not one of them.
 

lucas80

HR King
Gold Member
Jan 30, 2008
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This was the goal, and as I predicted, it appears to be costing Republicans a lot of votes, too. Something they should pay attention to in a general election when the more casual voter gets snared in their trap.
 

joelbc1

HR King
Gold Member
Sep 5, 2007
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you can’t always get what you want!
There was a good article about this in The Register this morning...10k Republican ballots, 15k Democrat ballots rejected, I believe..Dems rejections were mostly from urban (Democratic) areas. Harris County (Houston) had the most rejected ballots. ...as described, to cast such a “mail” ballot seems pretty conflated and confusing process...especially for older folks. Original voter registration numbers or driver’s license numbers are required for ballot verification...lots of older folks don’t drive and their “original” voter registration numbers would be 40-50 years old and older...
It is important to understand that “ the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
 
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BioHawk

HR Legend
Sep 21, 2005
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There was a good article about this in The Register this morning...10k Republican ballots, 15k Democrat ballots rejected, I believe..Dems rejections were mostly from urban (Democratic) areas. Harris County (Houston) had the most rejected ballots. ...as described, to cast such a “mail” ballot seems pretty conflated and confusing process...especially for older folks. Original voter registration numbers or driver’s license numbers are required for ballot verification...lots of older folks don’t drive and their “original” voter registration numbers would be 40-50 years old and older...
It is important to understand that “ the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
It doesn't seem like there were any good intentions with these bills, though. Maybe good intentions in the same way the Empire decided to relieve everyone on Alderaan of their outstanding debt.
 

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