EL PASO, Texas — The woman in charge of running elections in El Paso county believes there needs to be some type of change to the new voting laws in Texas that were rolled out before the midterm primaries on March 1.
Lisa Wise, the El Paso county elections administrator, says voter turnout in March’s primary election was at 11 percent. In the previous midterm primary in 2018, voter turnout in the county was at about 15 percent.
ABC-7 reviewed the numbers from the 2018 and 2022 midterm primaries. From 2018 to 2022, the Democratic voter turnout dropped by about 31 percent while Republican voter turnout increased by 49 percent.
Wise says a big difference was with mail-in ballots. This year Wise says about 930 mail-in ballot applications were denied, and about 400 of those ballots were denied because of a new voting law passed in Texas in 2021 known as Senate Bill 1. SB 1 created new requirements for mail-in ballot applications, by asking applicants to provide either their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number. One of those numbers is used when you register to vote, and your ballot application must match the same number you used when you registered to vote.
The law also did not allow the elections department to send out mail-in ballot applications. Wise says many voters over the age of 65 did not understand why they never got their mail-in ballot application. Wise added that legislators on both sides of the aisle in Texas have reached out to elections officials about making changes.
“I think they realized this was not working. Something has to change. Whether it’s some tweaks to the form, whether it’s some direction from the secretary of state’s office,” Wise explained.
ABC-7 reached out to three state senators who sponsored SB 1 for comment, but did not hear back.