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Tarrant County Questions 25 Percent of Mail-In Ballots

Just days into early voting for the March 1 primary, voters will need to go in-person to the office to resolve the questioned status of their ballots. The confusion is a direct result of the new election law.

(TNS) — Two days into early voting in Tarrant County, Texas, for the March 1 primary, 25 percent of mail-in ballots have been questioned by the Ballot Board, according to election administrator Heider Garcia.

He said the ballots have not been rejected. The ballots in "questioned status can be cured by the voters if they come into our office and fill out the proper paperwork," he wrote in an email Wednesday evening.

Of 644 Republican ballots received, 187 have been questioned by the board, he said. Of the 1,871 Democrat ballots received, 449 have been questioned by the board; 716 are pending review.

An election law that went into effect in December required voters to include either their driver's license number or last four digits of their Social Security number when applying for a mail-in ballot and when sending in a mail-in ballot to vote. The numbers have to match numbers associated with the applicant's voter registration in order to be approved.

The changes first resulted in higher-than-normal percentages of mail-in ballot applications being rejected across the state, including in Tarrant County, where missing numbers on applications were to blame.

The bill's goal is to increase election integrity and security. But the consequences of its passage have had the opposite effect, Allison Campolo, Tarrant County Democratic Party chair and Tarrant Together founder, said Wednesday.

"It's really not giving anybody any more integrity," Campolo said. "It's causing a lot of issues and a lot of people's votes, very valid votes, will not be counted because of these issues that we just created. This is very avoidable."

The problem has also occurred in other parts of the state. In Harris County, 38 percent of ballots were rejected and sent back for correction due to incorrect ID, according to a report from NPR.

When the county started seeing high rejection rates for vote-by-mail applications in January, Garcia told Tarrant County residents to include both their driver's license number and last four digits of their Social Security number when applying for a mail-in ballot, and to update their voter registration to include both numbers.

In a video posted to Twitter Wednesday morning, Secretary of State John Scott gave Texans the same advice for their applications to vote by mail.

"If you're not sure which one to put, you can put both just to be safe," Scott said. "It's not required to put both, but that's what I recommend to make sure it's processed correctly."

Scott also advised voters to put one or both of those numbers on their ballot's carrier envelope underneath the flap to protect the applicant's information, as well as a phone number and email address for someone at their county to contact them if there are issues with their ballot.

If someone's mail-in ballot has been rejected, Campolo advises them to go to their local elections office and ask for forms for their ballot in-person.

Voters can track the status of their ballots by visiting and selecting 'Track My Ballot.'

The deadline to have a mail-in ballot application received by the local elections office is Feb. 18.

(c)2022 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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