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Over 400 mail-in ballots rejected for March primaries, what you need to know

Posted at 5:01 PM, Mar 25, 2022

One Bell County resident is waving the red flag after finding out over 400 mails in ballots were rejected during the primary elections earlier this month. This election cycle has been a whirlwind for Bell County

Amid adding 14 new polling locations, redistricting, and manually processing over 200 thousand voters, some people slipped through the cracks.

Long-time voter, former election judge, and member of The Bell County Democratic Party Irene Andrews was shocked to see her mail-in ballot application rejected.

"I was rejected. I gave them my social, 20 years ago I didn't know I registered with my driver's license."

One of the major changes from Senate Bill 1, the state's new election integrity bill, requires voters to list their driver's license number or the last four of their society on their ballot, but it has to match the one they used when registering to vote.

Luckily, Andrews listed her phone number on the application and was able to make changes in time to cast her vote. She said it's something many people don't do.

"If 500 votes were rejected from people who should have been able to have their ballots count, that's a problem. This bill has caused havoc in Bell County and in this state," said Andrews.

Shay Luedeke, the county's Interim Elections administrator said, "There were a lot of changes from SB1 after the second special session."

While the county did have a successful election according to Luedeke, 412 Ballots were rejected, about half of those were mailed in after the deadline, not postmarked by election day.

He said, "Ballots were rejected based off the new rules, either they didn't have the driver's license or the last for the Social Security on the ballot. So, they could not count because we could not verify that those people were in the voter registration records."

Luedeke is pulling double duty as the county's elections administrator and as the Tax Assessor/Collector. This was his first election. As he prepares for the May runoff, Luedeke wants everyone to do their research to make sure their vote counts.

Luedeke said, "We have the runoff on May 24, so we've been busy trying to prepare for those and getting everything ready. They just need to do their research to make sure that their vote is going to count."

Andrews believes the verbiage on the application and ballot is unclear. She said folks need go the extra mile and fill out everything on the application to do their due diligence.

"Completely fill them out so that when the general election rolls around everything will be good to go," said Andrews.

The search is underway to hire a full-time elections administrator in the county. Luedeke said they expect to start interviews in April.