With the passage of Senate Bill 1 last September, new rules are taking effect for mail-in ballots for the primary elections in March.
Those looking to cast their vote by mail will have to use a new form and provide their driver’s license number, personal identification number, election identification certification number, or the last four of their social security number. Voters also need to ensure that the information matches up with their voter registration.
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Hidalgo County Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramon says the new rules and the latest guidance from the Secretary of State are causing ballot applications to be rejected.
“Let’s say I registered when I was 20 years old and I used by driver’s license number,” Ramon said. “Well guess what? If the driver’s license number is not matching your social security number, I must then reject that application because it must match.”
Ramon estimates more than half of the mail-in ballot request forms in Hidalgo County were rejected because they didn’t meet the new standard.
In Cameron County, five out of 60 were rejected.
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“Basically, those individuals just used whatever older forms that didn’t request that information specifically,” said Cameron County Elections Administrator Remi Garza. “So, we’re hopeful that with the time they have between now and the deadline, that they’ll have plenty of time to correct it.”
Garza says he expects about 2,000 applications by the deadline. The deadline to submit a properly filled mail-in ballot request form is Feb. 18.
“This has made it very difficult for our community, especially the elderly that don’t have computers on hand,” Ramon said. “With everything being approved so late in the game, it has made it difficult for us to move forward.”
Elections officials in Cameron County and Hidalgo County are asking the public to reach out to their elections department if they have questions.
The deadline to register to vote is Jan. 31. Check if you’re registered to vote here.
To apply for a mail-in ballot, click here.