Salon: “Throwback to Jim Crow”: New Texas voting law means Black voters’ ballots get tossed
Salon: “Throwback to Jim Crow”: New Texas voting law means Black voters' ballots get tossed
The rate of rejected mail ballots soared in the March primary elections in Texas — and those rejections disproportionately affected Democrats, especially Black voters in the state’s biggest county.
Nearly 23,000 ballots, or about 13% of all returned mail ballots, were thrown out across 187 Texas counties in the March primaries, according to an analysis by the Associated Press. In past election years, the rejection rate was around 1% to 2%, according to the Texas Tribune.
The rejection rate hit more liberal areas of the state with more than 15% of mail ballots thrown out in Democratic-leaning counties, compared to 9.1% in Republican-leaning counties. In Tarrant County, election officials rejected 813 ballots in the Democratic primary under the new voter ID rules, but just three ballots in the Republican primary, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
One of the highest rates of rejections was in Harris County, which includes Houston and is the state’s largest population center (and the third most populous county in the nation). Election officials were forced to discard nearly 7,000 ballots there, about 19% of all returned mail ballots. They threw out just 0.3% of returned mail ballots in the 2018 primaries.
The March election data also shows a stark racial disparity, according to an analysis by The New York Times. Voters in areas of Harris County with large Black populations were 44% more likely to have their mail ballots tossed than voters in areas with large white populations….
“Texas was already the hardest state to vote in before Republicans passed these laws that made it even harder,” said Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas, in a statement to Salon. “What we’re seeing today is a small preview of what we can expect to see at a far wider scale in November unless the federal government finally takes real action to intervene.”
Gutierrez said the Texas secretary of state’s office was repeatedly told about the potential for these problems when the voting-restriction bill was going through committee. He suggested that state officials had “ample opportunity” to address these issues but “instead chose to focus on playing politics [as] implementation was left to local officials who received little to no guidance or communication from our state’s chief election officer.” He predicted “far bigger problems in November when we have exponentially more people showing up to the polls.”