Updated 7:21 pm, Thursday, June 15, 2017
Photo: Mark Mulligan, Staff Photographer
AUSTIN — Hundreds were delayed from voting and others nearly turned away entirely during the presidential election because of confusion over the status Texas voter ID laws, a new report from a voting rights advocacy group shows.
It’s just one of numerous problems Texas voters — particularly minority groups — faced during the 2016 election cycle, the report from the Texas Civil Rights Project detailed on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, throughout the state, voters faced numerous obstacles that complicated the process,” said Beth Stevens, voting rights director at the Texas Civil Rights Project which put out the report on Thursday. “Through our Election Protection Coalition, we heard directly from thousands of voters about the barriers they faced in our electoral system.”
The first of its kind Texas-based report on voter issues was limited in scope to just over 4,000 incidents that we logged. But Stevens said it’s safe to assume there are many more Texans who experienced similar obstacles in voting that simply did not know who to turn to.
“Common sense says that there is whole subset of voters that didn’t know who to call and just walked away,” she said.
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Of the 4,000 incidents that were tracked by a coalition of voting advocacy groups during the presidential election most were issues related to polling place problems, voter registration status or voter ID requirements.
– Hundreds of callers reported that they were not on the voter rolls because of slight discrepancies in their names or addresses.
– 123 people during early voting and 186 on election day called to report confusion about voter identification requirements, often prompted by misleading information at polling locations or inaccurate information from poll workers.
– About 57 percent of calls were related to polling location problems, most notably polling sites being changed or eliminated. Most of the reports came from predominately black areas of Houston, the report showed.
– And many voters reported wait times in excess of one hour noting that there were too few poll workers to process voters or that multiple machines were either inoperable or not being utilized.
Supporters of the tougher ID laws, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have said they are needed to prevent voter fraud.
“Voter fraud is real, and it undermines the integrity of the election process,” Abbott said last year after the courts struck down the state’s tougher ID laws.