Texas: Crystal Mason’s illegal voting conviction must be reconsidered, court says | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

Full Article: Crystal Mason’s illegal voting conviction must be reconsidered, court says | The Texas Tribune

Texas: 12.38% of mail ballots were rejected in March primary | Ashley Lopez/NPR

A total of 24,636 mail-in ballots were rejected throughout Texas in the March 1 primary election, the Texas secretary of state’s office said Wednesday. That’s a 12.38% rejection rate — far higher than in previous contests. Local election officials, as well as voting rights advocates, have said many voters were tripped up by a GOP-backed law that went into effect late last year. James Slattery, a senior state attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project, says these final figures show Texas’ new voting law, known as Senate Bill 1, was “catastrophic for democracy” in the state. “The rejection rate went up by a factor of 12 since the last election,” he said. “The only reason that the rejection rate soared this high is that Senate Bill 1 imposed this new ID requirement and it is disenfranchising eligible voters.” Under SB 1, voters have to provide a partial Social Security number or driver’s license number on their mail ballot application — as well as on the return envelope. The ID number they provide has to match what’s on their voter registration record. Many voters either completely missed the new ID portion of the return envelope or had mismatched IDs, local officials said.

Full Article: 12.38% of Texas mail ballots were rejected in March primary : NPR

Texas: Mail Ballot Rejections Surge, With Signs of a Race Gap | Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

More than 18,000 voters in Texas’ most populous counties had their mail-in ballots rejected in the state’s primary election this month, according to a review of election data by The New York Times, a surge in thrown-out votes that disproportionately affected Black people in the state’s largest county and revealed the impact of new voting regulations passed by Republicans last year. In Harris County, which includes Houston and is the state’s most populous county, areas with large Black populations were 44 percent more likely to have ballots rejected than heavily white areas, according to a review of census survey data and election results by the Harris County election administrator’s office. The analysis also found that Black residents made up the largest racial group in six of the nine ZIP codes with the most ballot rejections in the county. The thousands of ballot rejections, and the racial disparity in rejections in Harris County, provide the clearest evidence yet that the major voting law passed last year by the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature has prevented significant numbers of people from voting. The rejection rate in the state’s most populous counties was roughly 15 percent. By comparison, during the 2020 general election, nearly one million absentee ballots were cast statewide and just under 9,000 were thrown out, a rejection rate of roughly 1 percent. The numbers in Harris County, which has over 4.7 million residents, also appeared to substantiate Democratic warnings that Black voters would face the brunt of the new regulations.

Full Article: Mail Ballot Rejections Surge in Texas, With Signs of a Race Gap – The New York Times

Texas mail ballot rejections soar under new restrictions | Paul J. Weber and Acacia Coronado/Associated Press

Texas threw out mail votes at an abnormally high rate during the nation’s first primary of 2022, rejecting nearly 23,000 ballots outright under tougher voting rules that are part of a broad campaign by Republicans to reshape American elections, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. Roughly 13% of mail ballots returned in the March 1 primary were discarded and uncounted across 187 counties in Texas. While historical primary comparisons are lacking, the double-digit rejection rate would be far beyond what is typical in a general election, when experts say anything above 2% is usually cause for attention. “My first reaction is ‘yikes,’” said Charles Stewart III, director of the Election Data and Science Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It says to me that there’s something seriously wrong with the way that the mail ballot policy is being administered.” Republicans promised new layers of voting rules would make it “easier to vote and harder to cheat.” But the final numbers recorded by AP lay bare the glaring gulf between that objective and the obstacles, frustration and tens of thousands of uncounted votes resulting from tighter restrictions and rushed implementation.

Full Article: Texas mail ballot rejections soar under new restrictions | AP News

Texas: Harris County election chief resigns as political parties demand answers over fumbled vote count | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

Many Texas voting locations did not open because of staff shortages | Reese Oxner and Uriel J. Garcia/The Texas Tribune

Full Article: Many Texas voting locations did not open because of staff shortages | The Texas Tribune

Texas: Travis County not saying what led to website crash on election night | Ryan Autullo Sarah Asch/Austin American-Statesman

As Travis County voters fired up their digital devices Tuesday night to check the results of the county’s Democratic and Republican primaries, they encountered what would be the most perplexing development of the evening: There were no results to be found. As results from the early voting period began to flow in from other major Texas counties, in Travis County — home to some of the world’s most powerful technology corporations — there was nothing but an error message on the Travis County clerk’s office elections website. “Error establishing a database connection,” the site showed. The website remained down for about 40 minutes, at which time the clerk’s office said on social media that its information technology department was working to publish the results on Travis County’s main website. About 10 minutes later, after nearly an hour with voters and candidates not knowing what was happening in the races, the results were finally posted. It’s still not clear what caused the problem — no Travis County officials would discuss it or answer questions on Wednesday, despite multiple requests for comment from the American-Statesman. Travis County spokesman Hector Nieto referred questions to the county clerk’s office. Victoria Hinojosa, an executive assistant in the clerk’s office who handles media requests, did not respond to multiple messages left Wednesday.

Full Article: Travis County not saying what led to website crash on election night

Texas firm Authentix backs GOP push for high-tech ‘fraud-proof’ ballots | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

Holographic foil. Special ink designed to be sensitive to temperature changes. Nearly invisible “stealth numbers” that can be located only using special ultraviolet or infrared lights. Those are among the high-tech security features that would be required to be embedded on ballots under measures proposed in at least four states by Republican lawmakers — all promoters of false claims that the 2020 election was marred by mass fraud — in an attempt to make the ballots as hard to counterfeit as passports or currency. But the specialized inks and watermarks also would limit the number of companies capable of selling ballot paper — potentially to just one Texas firm with no previous experience in elections that consulted with the lawmakers proposing the measures. Mark Finchem, an Arizona state representative spearheading the initiative, said in an interview that he developed ideas for the proposals after discussions with executives of Authentix, a company in Addison, Tex. The firm has since hosted other GOP lawmakers at its office and given presentations about the idea to legislators in two states, according to participants and social media posts.

Full Article: Texas firm Authentix backs GOP push for high-tech ‘fraud-proof’ ballots – The Washington Post

Texas: Advocates Struggle to Overcome New Voting Barriers | Laura Morales/Texas Observer

Before the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature passed a restrictive new voting measure last year, Molly Broadway was adept at navigating the state’s voting landscape. She had spent six years with Disability Rights Texas, an Austin-based nonprofit, specializing in advising voters on how to cast their ballot (regardless of party affiliation). That same confidence is hard to find nowadays. As the state’s first election after the passage of Senate Bill 1 looms, Broadway is dogged by uncertainty. SB 1 was a backlash to the pandemic-era accommodations several counties—especially Harris County—instituted in 2020, which saw record-high voter participation rates. The law prohibits counties from proactively sending mail-in ballot applications or implementing 24-hour voting and drive-thru voting. It also creates a slew of requirements for mail-in voting applications. “We’re trying to answer their questions and provide as much information as we can, as it’s being made available to us, but it can be challenging,” Broadway said. “And people have a lot of questions and concerns about it.” She said the changes introduce an “intimidation factor” for potential voters that could turn some off from voting at all. “Unless you are paying attention to this issue day in and day out, it is easy to get swept up by it,” she said. At the same time, newly gerrymandered political maps in Texas appear to water down the voting power of people of color, despite the fact that they made up 95 percent of the state’s population growth in the last decade.

Full Article: Advocates Struggle to Overcome New Voting Barriers in Texas

Texas: Hundreds of mail-in ballots are being returned to voters because they don’t comply with new voting law | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

Full Article: New Texas voting rules cause rejection of hundreds of mail-in ballots | The Texas Tribune

Texas’ wasteful election audit leads to some easy predictions | Rick Casey/San Antonio Report

It may have been the last official act of 2021 by any Texas state official above the level of a state trooper. Secretary of State John Scott’s office on New Year’s Eve released findings from the first stage of the “forensic audit” of the 2020 election. It is an ancient tradition of political practice to release bad news at a time when it is least likely to cause ripples, and nothing fits that bill like New Year’s Eve. Not only are news organizations on holiday staffing, but who watches TV news on New Year’s Eve? For that matter, who is alertly reading the newspaper the next morning? What was the bad news? It was the good news that neither Russian hackers nor Venezuelan-based voting machine companies had manipulated or manufactured hundreds of thousands of Texans’ votes to elect Joe Biden president. It was hardly even news at all in that it is exactly what local officials had been saying for more than a year. But for conspiracy theorists it was, to say the least, disappointing. Perhaps the timing of the release was focused on one particular news consumer, a man who was presumed to be partying New Years Eve and golfing the next day at Mar-a-Lago.  Donald Trump has a special interest in the audit, which examined election data from four urban Texas counties: Collin, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant. State officials announced the audit in September a few hours after he released a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott pushing for it despite the fact that Trump had carried Texas by nearly 6 points. Since Abbott had recently appointed Scott secretary of state, it’s safe to assume that the governor was involved in generating the audit. Abbott already had put on the agenda and signed into law a special session bill that mandates such audits after future elections.

Full Article: Texas’ wasteful election audit leads to some easy predictions

Texas secretary of state’s partial audit of 2020 election finds few issues | Alexa Ura and Allyson Waller/The Texas Tribune

Texas: Phil Waldron’s Unlikely Role in Pushing Baseless Election Claims | Alan Feuer/The New York Times

A few days after President Biden’s inauguration put to rest one of the most chaotic transitions in U.S. history, a former Army colonel with a background in information warfare appeared on a Christian conservative podcast and offered a detailed account of his monthslong effort to challenge the validity of the 2020 vote count. In a pleasant Texas drawl, the former officer, Phil Waldron, told the hosts a story that was almost inconceivable: how a cabal of bad actors, including Chinese Communist officials, international shell companies and the financier George Soros, had quietly conspired to hack into U.S. voting machines in a “globalist/socialist” plot to steal the election. In normal times, a tale like that — full of wild and baseless claims — might have been dismissed as the overheated rantings of a conspiracy theorist. But the postelection period was not normal, providing all sorts of fringe players an opportunity to find an audience in the White House. Mr. Waldron stands as a case study. Working in conjunction with allies of President Donald J. Trump like Rudolph W. Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas, a member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus — and in tandem with others like Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser and a retired lieutenant general — Mr. Waldron managed to get a hearing for elements of his story in the very center of power in Washington. Last week, the House committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 issued a subpoena to Mr. Waldron, saying that it wanted to know more about his role in circulating an explosive PowerPoint presentation on Capitol Hill and to Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s last chief of staff.

Full Article: Phil Waldron’s Unlikely Role in Pushing Baseless Election Claims – The New York Times

Editorial: The real cost of the Texas elections audit | Dallas Morning News

In the days after Gov. Greg Abbott ordered a “forensic audit” of the November 2020 elections, the elections administrators of the four targeted counties were left scratching their heads. Officials in Dallas and Collin counties told us in late September that they were waiting to receive instructions from the Texas secretary of state. Tarrant and Harris counties were also in the dark. We condemned the audit at that time, though we hoped there would be no follow-through. We thought it might be a superficial stunt to appease President Donald Trump, and nothing more. But our news colleagues recently reported that Secretary of State John Scott sent a long list of requested documents to the four counties. And last month, the governor and GOP legislative leaders shifted $4 million from the state prison system to the office of the secretary of state to pay for the audit. Abbott is making a mistake by pressing on with this forensic audit — whatever it is that GOP leaders mean by “forensic.” The myth of widespread voter fraud is red meat for Republican primary voters but far less palatable to moderate suburban voters in a general election, a political calculus that the governor must make as he campaigns for another term and seeks to carry down-ballot Republicans with him. Above all, this obsession with election audits is eroding democracy for all of us, no matter our political affiliation.

Full Article: The real cost of the Texas elections audit

Texas voting law faces lawsuit from Justice Department, targeting restrictions on mail-in ballots and voter assistance | Cassandra Pollock/The Texas Tribune

Full Article: Texas voting law faces lawsuit from Justice Department | The Texas Tribune

Texas’ new secretary of state says the 2020 election wasn’t stolen, but his top priority is auditing its results | Patrick Svitek/The Texas Tribune

Full Article: Texas Secretary of State John Scott says top priority is an election audit | The Texas Tribune

Texas GOP leader pays illegal voting ‘bounty’ to Democrat in Pennsylvania | Associated Press

The conservative Texas Republican leader who pledged bounties to those who prove fraud at the polls has paid a liberal Democratic poll watcher who reported illegal voting by a Pennsylvania Republican. Tipster Eric Frank deposited a $25,000 check from Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s campaign this week, and Patrick may be on the hook for more bounties, The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday. Frank reported Ralph Thurman, a 72-year-old registered Republican, after seeing him vote twice on Election Day, once for himself and once for his son, who was a registered Democrat. Frank told The News that he would have reported anyone he saw voting illegally, regardless of party. Having come from a family of Democratic operatives, however, he said he sees the irony of the situation. “It’s my belief that they were trying to get cases of Democrats doing voter fraud. And that just wasn’t the case,” Frank said. “This kind of blew up in their face.”

Full Article: Texas GOP leader pays illegal voting ‘bounty’ to Democrat

Texas Governor’s pick for top election post worked with Trump to fight 2020 results | James Barragan and Patrick Svitek/The Texas Tribune

 

Full Article: John Scott appointed Texas secretary of state by Gov. Greg Abbott | The Texas Tribune

Texas: Trump won Hood County in a landslide. His supporters still hounded the elections administrator until she resigned. | Jeremy Schwartz/The Texas Tribune and Pro Publica

Full Article: Hood County elections administrator resigns after push from Trump loyalists | The Texas Tribune

Texas: Republicans Are Laying The Groundwork For Endless Election “Audits” That Go Long Past Trump | Sarah Mimms/BuzzFeed

Republicans are laying the groundwork for candidates to follow former president Donald Trump’s election-denying playbook, creating the potential for vote “audits” up and down the ballot for years to come. Of most concern to election experts and voting rights advocates is Texas’s SB 47, a bill Republicans are currently fast-tracking through the state legislature. It would allow any candidate or party chair to force multiple inquiries into anything they view as an election “irregularity.” These inquiries would not require any burden of proof and could be pursued for potentially years after an election is over, all at the expense of taxpayers. Roughly one-third of Americans believe Trump’s continued lies about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Now add in the potential for similar claims from dozens of losing candidates in every single primary and general election race — not to mention county and state party chairs and committees supporting ballot measures, all of whom can also force a look into a past election — and you have the nightmare outcome of a bill like Texas’s SB 47. “It was the single most concerning bill I have seen all legislative session,” Sarah Walker, executive director for the national, nonpartisan election integrity group Secure Democracy, said this week. The bill, which passed the state Senate Tuesday, still needs a vote in the House, but it is getting an aggressive PR campaign from Trump, in part because it also includes an audit of the 2020 election. Trump has spent weeks putting intense pressure on Gov. Greg Abbott, who is up for reelection next year, to do a “strong and real” audit (and rejecting the post-election audit the state is already doing in response to his complaints as “weak”) despite winning the state by 6 points. ​​Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: Election Audits In Texas Could Go On For Years

Texas secretary of state releases guidance on so-called election audits | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

Source: Texas secretary of state releases guidance on so-called election audits | The Texas Tribune

Texas secretary of state’s office auditing four counties’ 2020 elections months after an official called the statewide process “smooth and secure” | Neelam Bohra/The Texas Tribune

Full Article: Texas secretary of state’s office auditing elections in four counties | The Texas Tribune

Texas: Harris County leaders call state election audit a ‘sham’ and an assault on democracy to appease Trump | Zach Despart/Houston Chronicle

Harris County leaders on Friday blasted the Texas secretary of state’s decision to conduct a comprehensive “forensic audit” of the 2020 election in four counties, including Harris, as a political ploy to appease conspiracy theorists and former President Donald Trump. County Judge Lina Hidalgo accused Gov. Greg Abbott of trying to curry favor with the former president, who on Thursday called for an audit of the Texas results, despite comfortably carrying the state in his unsuccessful bid for re-election. She likened the effort to audits in Arizona and Pennsylvania, which have failed to find major errors in vote tallying. There is no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities in Harris County’s 2020 election, where a record 1.7 million voters participated. “This does not deserve to be treated as a serious matter or serious audit,” Hidalgo said. “It is an irresponsible political trick. It is a sham. It is a cavalier and dangerous assault on voters and democracy.”

Full Article: Hidalgo calls state election audit a ‘sham’ and an assault on democracy to appease Trump

Texas elections law carries costs and threat of litigation for all 254 counties | Allie Morris/Dallas Morning News

In Tom Green County last election, the line of people waiting to cast a ballot from their vehicle sometimes wrapped around the block. The farming and ranching hub in West Texas was one of a handful of places to roll out drive-through voting in the pandemic, drawing enthusiastic support from locals. “It just happened to benefit some people who had kids with them or people who couldn’t stand for a long time,” said elections administrator Vona Hudson. “I can’t tell you how many people appreciated it and called and thanked us.” Tom Green County couldn’t be more different than Harris, the large, liberal county whose novel voting initiatives triggered a months-long legislative fight over voting rights. Yet now, both must account for the new GOP-backed elections law that will have sweeping effects for all 254 counties. The law bars counties from offering drive-through and 24-hour voting, like Houston’s Harris County did. Other, less high-profile provisions could cost taxpayers thousands, if not millions, of dollars. Not only must counties buy new equipment and come up with new election forms, they are now open to potentially costly lawsuits and fines, election officials said.

Full Article: New Texas elections law carries costs and threat of litigation for all 254 counties

Texas Republicans plan expanded election audits | Reid Wilson/The Hill

Texas Republican legislators coming off a successful effort to overhaul the state’s election procedures are preparing new legislation that would dramatically expand the rights of candidates and political party bosses to force mandatory audits of future elections. The legislation, introduced by a former elections official who now serves in the state Senate, would allow those with a direct stake in election outcomes to formally seek answers from county clerks about potential irregularities in reported results and to elevate concerns to the Texas secretary of state. Those who could raise potential objections to election results include a candidate, the chair of a county or state political party, the presiding county judge — effectively a county’s top executive — or the proponents or opponents of a ballot measure campaign. The secretary of state would be allowed to order a review and potentially an audit. The legislation is written to grandfather in complaints about the 2020 presidential election, giving new life to former President Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread irregularities that have not been proven.

Full Article: Texas Republicans plan expanded election audits | TheHill

Texas Senate too late with hastily conjured bill allowing party officials to trigger audits of 2020 election | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

Full Article: Texas Senate bill would have let party officials trigger audits of 2020 election | The Texas Tribune

Texas: The hard-fought voting bill is poised to become law. Here’s what it does. | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

Full Article: Texas voting bill: Here’s what’s in the legislation poised to become law | The Texas Tribune

Texas House advances new voting restrictions as Democratic hopes of killing the legislation wane | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

Full Article: Texas House lawmakers pass GOP-backed voting restrictions bill | The Texas Tribune

Texas Fight Over Voting Rights Nears End as Democrats Return 7 J. David Goodman and David Montgomery/The New York Times

A 38-day walkout by Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives effectively ended on Thursday as three previously absent members arrived in the Capitol, clearing the way for Republicans to establish a quorum and pass restrictive voting rules. Despite efforts by Democrats to maintain a solid block even as most returned from Washington this month, the three representatives from Houston decided to return together, an apparent effort to deflect any criticism from their colleagues or liberal activists. The House adjourned until 4 p.m. Monday without any votes, but hearings were expected to take place over the weekend. The passage of sweeping voting restrictions — to undo last year’s expansion of ballot access during the coronavirus pandemic in places like Houston and empower partisan poll watchers — appeared quite likely in the coming days. “We took the fight for voting rights to Washington, D.C.,” the three Democratic legislators, Garnet Coleman, Ana Hernandez and Armando Walle, said in a joint statement, adding, “Now we continue the fight on the House floor.” The three arrived in the Capitol as a group, with Mr. Walle pushing Mr. Coleman, who has severe diabetes and underwent a lower leg amputation this spring, in a wheelchair. “It is time to move past these partisan legislative calls and to come together to help our state mitigate the effects of the current Covid-19 surge,” they said in their statement.

Full Article: Fight Over Voting Rights in Texas Nears End as Democrats Return – The New York Times

Texas audit proposed by GOP would miss minor but real errors | Nicholas Riccardi and Paul Weber/Associated Press

A group of Texas Republicans wants to audit the 2020 election results in just the large, mostly Democratic counties across the state. If they get their way, they’ll miss many of the real — but minor — errors in the state’s vote count. That’s according to a team of researchers that conducted a statewide analysis of the results across both Democratic and Republican counties. The group found a series of errors that would not come close to changing Republican Donald Trump’s victory in the state or any other statewide race. But the errors stretch across both Republican and Democratic counties. The research adds to a pile of evidence that contradicts the belief, widespread among Republicans, that elections in Democratic areas are rife with errors, irregularities and mismanagement. While errors in the tally do occur, research shows they tend to be random and small scale and do not benefit one party or the other. In Texas, the mistakes, detected by election researchers from the University of Florida, were scattered across 37 of Texas’ 254 counties. They added or subtracted a handful of votes from various candidates with no skew toward one party or the other. Trump apparently received 223 more votes than the 5,890,347 that the Texas secretary of state lists as the Republican’s total. Democrat Joe Biden appears to have received 155 more votes than his listed 5,259,126, according to the research. Minor mistakes like the Texas ones are relatively common, say election experts. In Texas, the errors are likely due to the state’s use of an older computer system that requires counties to enter their tallies by hand, increasing the risk of errors when the wrong digit is typed.

 

Full Article: Texas audit proposed by GOP would miss minor but real errors