Judge issues injunction blocking charges against Texas election officials who encourage mail-in voting

Texas State Capitol
(Image credit: edsansin/iStock)

A federal judge issued an injunction Friday barring Texas counties from pursuing criminal charges election officials who encourage mail-in voting, CNN reported.

According to the new voting law known as Senate Bill 1, which Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed in September, local election officials "may make no attempt to solicit a person to complete an application for an early voting ballot by mail." Per CNN, election officials "face fines of up to $10,000 for violating the ban."

The law, which Texas Democrats attempted to block during the summer by fleeing the state to deny Republicans a quorum, also requires mail-in voters to provide a Texas ID number or the last four digits of a Social Security number twice: once when requesting the mail-in ballot and again when submitting it.

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According to The Washington Post, large numbers of ballots have been rejected ahead of the March 1 primary as voters struggle to adapt to the new requirements. Per the Post, "In Harris County, the state's most populous county and home to Houston, election officials said … 40 percent of roughly 3,600 returned ballots so far have lacked the identification number required."

In Hays County, southwest of Austin, voters figured out the new system fairly quickly, with the rejection rate dropping from 25 percent to just 4 percent. "It seems like our outreach is working," said Hays County elections chief Jennifer Anderson.

Voters who forget to provide the required ID number are given an opportunity to correct their mail-in ballots or to cancel their mail-in ballots and vote in person.

Around one1 million Texans voted by mail in 2020, CNN notes. Those eligible include people "65 or older, voters who will be out of their home county during in-person voting, those who are sick or disabled, and people who are incarcerated but still have the right to vote."

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