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League of Women Voters of the San Antonio Area

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New laws improve mail ballot requirements

Glenda Wolin | Published on 7/3/2023

Two new bipartisan laws passed by the 2023 legislature and signed by the governor are designed to lower rejection rates of mail-in applications and mail ballots and to improve the ability to track them. This follows the rejection of thousands of ballots after a 2021 law created new and confusing identification requirements. The new laws take effect September 1, before the November state constitutional amendment election.

One law requires election officials to return a faulty application to the voter along with a new one and an explanation of defects and instructions on returning the corrected ballot if there is time for the applicant to mail it back before the deadline. If it is deemed too late to return by mail, an election official must call or email the applicant to notify them of the rejection and inform them that they can come to elections office before the deadline (For the November election, the deadline is October 27) and correct the defects in person.

In both situations, the applicant must be informed that they can also correct the information using an online tool (still in development), which will also let all applicants track the status of their application.

The other law deals with the online ballot tracker, replacing the requirement for an exact street address with the date of birth. Under the new law, voters now must provide their name, date of birth, the last four digits of their Social Security number, and a state ID number. Previously, an address ending in "St." instead of "Street," for example, would return a message "voter not found."

Voters are still required, under laws passed in 2021, to include either a drivers license or the last four digits of the Social Security number on both the mail-in ballot application and under the flap of the carrier envelope holding the ballot.

People who qualify for a mail ballot must request an application before each election, with the exception of people 65 or older or who have a disability. If they check the box marked “annual ballot, they will receive ballots for every election in the year without further requests.

To read the full text of the laws, click on Senate Bill 1599 and House Bill 357

League of Women Voters of the San Antonio Area

PO Box 12811

San Antonio, TX 78212
(210) 657-2206