(WASHINGTON) — Twenty-eight days, three forms, and several calls — that’s what Pam Gaskin says it took for her to finally be able to cast her ballot in Texas. The 74-year-old has voted by mail for nearly a decade, but this year, she says a typically easy process turned into a “nightmare.”
“It’s like being in a maze. You don’t know which way to turn,” she told ABC News’ Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott.
Texas Republicans passed a sweeping election overhaul bill last year which includes adding new requirements for mail-in voting, expanding access to partisan poll watchers, and banned drive through and 24-hour voting, which was largely utilized by Harris County. Now, with Texas voters heading to the polls for the nation’s first primary, the impact of the state’s new and strict election law is being felt for the first time.
“Jim Crow 2.0,” Gaskin called the new law. “These laws were meant to stop certain classes and categories of people from voting.”
Gaskin and her husband, John, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, were denied mail-in ballots twice. One reason: For the first time, voters are required to submit their Social Security number or driver’s license number. The problem? The new law says the ID number or other information provided must match the information they used when they first registered to vote.
For Gaskin, that was 46 years ago.
“I’m 74 years old. I can barely remember what I ate yesterday. So, I certainly didn’t remember what I put on my application,” Gaskin said.
She’s not alone. Thirty percent of mail-in ballots were rejected or marked for rejected in Harris County, which includes Houston, when the law first went into effect. After the county gave voters like Gaskin the opportunity to correct the problem, the number lowered to a 13.45% rejection rate, according to ABC News.
It took three forms, 28 days, several calls, and a whole lot of guessing before Gaskin’s mail-in ballot was finally accepted. But she worries other voters won’t go through the lengths she did to vote.
“It makes you kind of think, is it worth it? And one of the reasons I’m talking to you, is I want everybody who can hear me say this, to hear this. It is worth it. It is worth it. Don’t give up. Don’t give in,” she said.
Texas Republicans insist the new law protects the integrity of elections. However, there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, and the office of former Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs, who oversaw the 2020 election and was appointed by the Republican governor, even called the election “smooth and secure.”
Still, in a state former President Donald Trump won handily, some voters say the new changes give them more security in the election system.
“I have more confidence,” Jan Riley, a Houston voter told ABC News. “I don’t want any fraud.”
Nineteen states have passed laws making it tougher for people to vote and 27 states are considering similar legislation, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
More than half of the legislation being considered targets mail-in voting.
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