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Willie Nelson Had Trouble Voting in Texas Primary Due to New Voter Suppression Law

The singer and his wife struggled to obtain mail-in ballots

willie nelson texas primary voting law absentee ballot voter suppression
Willie Nelson, photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images
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    Not even a superstar like Willie Nelson was spared from the effects of Texas’ new restrictive voting law.

    According to reporting by the Associated Press, the iconic singer and his wife had particular difficulty obtaining absentee ballots in order to vote in the state’s primary election earlier this month, which took place on March 1st.

    Nelson’s wife, Annie D’Angelo-Nelson, told the Austin American-Statesman that she and her husband had to apply for the ballots twice, with their first attempt being rejected because of the new law’s stringent identification requirements. Thankfully, the couple was able to work through the mix-up and apply again, but D’Angelo-Nelson commented that the possibility of other voters with less determination and understanding of the absentee requirements being rejected entirely was a cause of major concern.

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    A story by The Texas Tribune gave further context, reporting that Texas election officials were “rejecting an alarming number of mail-in applications” under the new voting law, with officials in Travis County — the same county Nelson and his wife voted in — confirming they had rejected “about half” of the applications they had received less than two months ahead of the election.

    Under the new law, absentee voters are required to include their driver’s license number or state ID number in their applications. If they don’t have either one, they can provide the last four digits of their Social Security number. Voters who don’t have those IDs can indicate that they have not been issued that identification. Counties then have to match those numbers with the information in the person’s voter file to approve them for a mail-in ballot.

    Ultimately, the number of mail-in ballots dismissed under the new law totaled about 13%. “My first reaction is ‘yikes,'” Charles Stewart III, director of MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab, told AP in an interview. “It says to me that there’s something seriously wrong with the way that the mail ballot policy is being administered.”

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    After Matthew McConaughey bowed out of the upcoming gubernatorial election in November, incumbent Republican Governor Greg Abbott will now face off against Democratic Party star Beto O’Rourke in the state’s general election.

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