Texas launches statewide online mail-in-ballot tracker for voters

A statewide online mail-in-ballot tracker is now available for voters in Texas

Voters are required to provide their name, registration address, last four digits of their social security number, and either their driver's license number or DPS ID number. From there, voters can see if their application has been received and if it was accepted or rejected as well as if their ballot has been mailed to them, received by the early voting clerk, and accepted or rejected. 

The tracker is updated using data provided to the Secretary of State by Texas counties.

"Excited to announce the statewide Ballot By Mail Tracker is now online!" Rep. John Bucy III (D) said in a tweet. "We passed HB 1382 to create this tool to increase accessibility, efficiency, & transparency for Texas voters. #txlege"

Texas House Bill 1382 was passed during one of the three special sessions Governor Greg Abbott called over the summer. HB 1382 creates an online tracking system for mail-in ballots and applications for mail-in ballots. The system will be run by the Texas Secretary of State.

Texas has strict rules outlining who can receive a paper ballot that can be filled out at home and returned in the mail or dropped off in person on Election Day. Only voters who are 65 or older automatically qualify. 

Otherwise, voters must qualify under a limited set of reasons for needing a mail-in ballot. Those include being absent from the county during the election period or a disability or illness that would keep them from voting in person without needing help or that makes a trip to the polls risky to their health.

Voters whose applications are rejected because of the ID requirements are supposed to have an opportunity to fix the issue. HB 1382 created a new correction process for mail-in voting, including errors on applications. That process begins when county officials provide voters with a notice that their application was rejected and information on how to correct the defect, including through a new online ballot tracker.

As of Jan. 13, fifty percent of applications for mail-in ballots in Travis County have been rejected, says the county clerk's office. Many other counties are experiencing the same high rejection rate, says the office. Williamson County reported to FOX 7 Austin that their rejection rate is 40% because of similar issues.

The rejections come after Texas' new Senate Bill 1 was signed into law by Abbott in September. SB1 now requires mail-in ballot applicants to include either a Driver's License number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the application. 

That number is then verified against the applicant's voter registration record. If the ID provided is not in the record on file, the law requires the application to be rejected.

The Travis County Clerk's Office says that at this time, it does not have enough information regarding the state's new online cure process in order to instruct voters on how to cure their application with the Secretary of State. Also, it says it has not received instructions from the state on what it can do to assist voters in submitting a complete application.

The Texas Tribune contributed to this article

Mail-in ballot application rejections at 50%, says Travis County Clerk

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