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Bexar County elections office open Saturday for voters to fix rejected absentee ballots

At least one local race may hinge on the number of voters who correct errors that would otherwise invalidate their ballots.

SAN ANTONIO — The Bexar County elections headquarters will open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, providing voters time to correct errors that would otherwise invalidate their mail-in ballots. 

New absentee forms tripped up thousands of Texans during this week's primary election. It isn't clear how many ballots Bexar County leaders have rejected so far. 

"We had a high rejection rate," said Jacquelyn Callanen, Bexar County elections administrator. "When I saw it on election night, it was about 35.7%." 

That number has almost certainly changed since Tuesday, as voters correct errors and more absentee ballots arrive. 

"It's been quite a lesson learned and we hope that things go a lot smoother as we move through 2022," Callanen said. 

The vast majority of ballot mistakes are related to changes instituted in Texas's new voting laws, pushed by Republican lawmakers like Gov. Greg Abbott to "make it easier to vote and harder to cheat."

The legislature rewrote the state's election code last year despite assurances from Texas's then-secretary of state that the 2020 election was "safe and secure." There is no evidence for widespread voter fraud. 

The new measure requires voters to write either their driver's license or social security number on absentee paperwork. The number the voter selects must match the number they used to register to vote. 

Callanen said about 75% of Bexar County's rejected ballots had mismatched identification numbers. Other voters overlooked a new blank for an identification number, tucked underneath a flap on the ballot. 

"A lot of voters missed that," she said. 

Appointed officials must call or email voters to notify them their ballots were rejected. Voters then have six days after the election to "cure" rejected ballots online or in-person at their county elections administrator's office. 

But Callanen said there are "absolutely" some voters with invalidated ballots that officials have not reached. 

Civil rights attorneys say absent voters without internet access may not have an opportunity to correct their ballot mistakes. 

"So many people vote by mail because they are away from home... or have mobility issues," said James Slattery, a staff attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project. "It just shows, fundamentally, this law was not written to make our elections better." 

At least one race in Bexar County could be decided by the number of voters who correct absentee ballots. Lucy Adame-Clark finished Tuesday night just 256 votes ahead of Rachel Garcia Cavazos in the Democratic Primary for Bexar County Clerk. 

Other close elections could be affected, too. 

"We hope the Texas Legislature now realizes we were correct in our warnings," Slattery said. "This is clearly affecting, almost entirely, eligible voters who are doing everything they can to vote." 

Voters can track the status of their mail-in ballot and correct some issues on the Secretary of State's website. The Bexar County elections office will also open Monday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. to help voters cure their ballots before Monday night's deadline. 

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