State Watch

Texas blames supply chain snarls for shortage of voter registration forms

A voting booth is seen at an early voting polling site at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax, Va., on Friday, September 17, 2021.
Greg Nash

The Texas Secretary of State’s office is blaming supply chain issues for a shortage of voter registration forms in the Lone Star State after bottlenecks in the fall caused prices to skyrocket nationwide.

Sam Taylor, the assistant secretary of state for communications, said supply chain snarls have driven up the price of paper, which will in turn caused the state to distribute fewer voter registration forms in preparation for November’s midterm elections.

“We are limited in what we can supply this year, because of the paper shortage and the cost constraints due to the price of paper and the supply of paper.” Taylor told KUT 90.5.

The Secretary of State’s office is now limiting the number of registration forms groups are able to request: each organization can only receive between 1,000 and 2,000 registration forms per ask, according to Taylor.

The shortage, however, is occurring at a particularly tenuous time for Texas, as groups in the Lone Star State work to register voters after a sweeping elections bill took effect in December.

Groups in Texas are requesting new voter registration forms because the controversial bill altered the document.

“The voter registration application changed this year for one reason: It’s because the legislature decided to increase the penalty for illegal voter registration from a class B misdemeanor to a class A misdemeanor,” Taylor told KUT 90.5.

Taylor said the Secretary of State’s office has instructed groups that they should not distribute old versions of voter registration forms, but county registrars are permitted to accept old applications as long as they are “otherwise valid.”

“In other words, using last year’s form in and of itself is not fatal to the voter’s registration application,” he added.

The Texas voting bill, which Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed in September, enacted an overhaul of election procedures in the state. Abbott signed the measure after Democrats in the legislature fled Texas in an effort to delay the process for the bill moving forward.

Among other provisions the legislation prohibits round-the-clock polling stations and limits drive-thru voting and voting by mail. It also gives partisan poll watchers more authority and increases voter identification requirements.

Grace Chimene, the president of the League of Women Voters of Texas, told KUT 90.5 that it is not uncommon for the secretary of state’s office to not be able to fulfill all application requests ahead of elections from groups like hers. She did, however, say the shortage is styming her efforts to register thousands of citizens who were recently naturalized.

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