Over 7,000 mail-in ballots returned for correction due to new voting laws

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- With less than a week until Election Day, if you are one who received a mail ballot, it is time to fill it out and get it in the mail. Mail ballots must be received by 5 p.m. on the first business day after Election Day.

Thousands of mail ballots and applications for mail ballots have been rejected under the new voting law, SB1.

"I was so frustrated. I said, 'Well, they are not going to tell me again that I didn't put the right thing on,' so everywhere there was a blank, I filled it in," explained Pam Gaskin, a Fort Bend County voter.

The third time was the charm for Gaskin, who finally received her mail ballot 28 days after she started the process.

"I have been a continuous registered voter in this county since 1976. I am not trying to pull anything over on anybody. All I wanted was a mail-in ballot," said Gaskin.

Gaskin is not alone in this frustration.

According to the Harris County elections administrator, 14% of mail ballot applications have been rejected due to new ID laws and 31% of mail ballots have been rejected due to new identification as of earlier this week.

As of Tuesday, Feb. 22, Harris County Elections had processed 23,393 mail ballots, but 7,165 had to be sent back for correction due to the new laws.

The elections administrator in Fort Bend County estimates a 20% rejection rate on the mail ballots and in Galveston County, it's about 30%.

Now that we are less than a week from Election Day, if you are someone who has had trouble with your mail ballot, you may be wondering if you can still choose to vote in person instead. The answer is yes.

"If your mail ballot gets sent to you because it needs ID or correction and you say, 'You know what, I'd rather just do it in person,' bring that mail ballot with you if you can. If you cannot, no problem, but you also have to bring your ID to vote in person, so of course we can check you in and confirm you are who you say you are," explained Isabel Longoria, the Harris County elections administrator.

If you are choosing to vote in person and are concerned about getting safely to and from the polling booth, you can vote curbside.

"The Texas Election Code says if you have a reasonable fear that you will be harmed or injured by walking into a voting location, you can do curbside voting. All 750 of our locations and all of our early vote locations have a curbside buzzer," said Longoria.

Voters are able to drive up and push a blue buzzer which will signal an election judge to come out to your car and help you vote.

In Harris County, there are extended early voting hours on Thursday, Feb. 24. Eligible voters can cast a vote at any early voting location from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Thursday. Early voting ends on Friday.

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