‘That’s it, I’m coming down to your office’: Mail-in ballot issue as early voting begins

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ahead of Friday’s deadline to submit an absentee ballot application in Travis County, a KXAN viewer said she struggled to make sure hers was submitted.

Pflugerville retiree Mindy Sue Cohen said she submitted her candidacy to the county electoral division in January. A month later and after several phone calls, she said the office told her they were unable to confirm that her file was in their system.

“I said, ‘OK, I’m coming down to your office,'” Cohen told KXAN.

She went to the Travis County Building Elections Office along Airport Boulevard to submit another nomination in person. She said she was forced to park in a nearby car park due to a lack of open spaces.

“I was able to walk a long distance, through traffic, through traffic to get to their office, but not everyone [eligible to vote by mail] is capable of doing it,” Cohen said. “It’s a deterrent to voting, and I think it’s wrong.”

Voters Mindy Sue Cohen sits at her kitchen table (Picture: KXAN)

KXAN contacted the Elections Division for comment on Monday but did not receive a timely response.

Cohen said she didn’t blame Travis County. She blames stricter voting rules put in place by state lawmakers in the last legislative cycle. The changes have led to claim rejections and litigation.

“I think the only way to see changes or changes in the [new] mail-in voting procedures are if there is judicial intervention,” said communications and political science professor Dr. Richard Pineda.

State GOP leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have argued that the sweeping bill passed last September makes it “easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

New poll from UT Austin’s Texas Politics Project shows a split party line on the issue, with Republicans strongly in favor of stricter rules for voting in Texas following repeated and unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen”.

Red represents Republican voters, blue Democrat in the table above (Image: The Texas Politics Project and KXAN)

“I think it reflects the culture of doubt in the integrity of the [election] process,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Policy Project.

Back in Pflugerville, Cohen said she thought there were others as excited as she was.

“Maybe they don’t feel comfortable for some reason standing up for their right to vote, but I have no problem doing that,” she said.

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