The Texas Secretary of State’s Office says it has only a limited amount of voter registration applications due to supply chain issues increasing the cost of paper.
The office ordered its first bulk supply of 128,000 voter registration forms on November 8 and received that shipment just last week, Texas Secretary of State spokesman Sam Taylor told CNN.
The development comes as voting rights groups in Texas are already calling on voters to be proactive about educating themselves on the state’s new election law passed by the Republican-led state Legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in September. The law restricts the hours that counties can offer early voting and blocks them from sending unsolicited mail-in voting applications – even to those who are older than 65 and therefore qualify automatically to vote by mail. Hundreds of mail-in ballot applications have been rejected in some of Texas’ largest counties because of the new law, according to multiple election officials.
While online voter registration is not authorized in Texas, voters can update their registration information through Texas.gov and people can register to vote while renewing their driver’s licenses or personal ID cards through the Texas Department of Public Safety, Taylor said.
The website for the secretary of state’s office includes instructions for filling out a form online that can then be printed out and mailed in, and for requesting an application form by mail.
One organization that has requested voter registration forms is the League of Women Voters of Texas.
Grace Chimene, the president of the League of Women Voters of Texas, said she is disappointed in the lack of preparation by the secretary of state’s office.
“It should be no surprise that there would be a great demand for voter registration forms before the deadline to register to vote for the March Texas primary,” Chimene told CNN. The registration deadline for that primary election is January 31.
According to Chimene, the message that her organization’s Houston branch received from the secretary of state’s office was “dismissive.”
“The League of Women Voters Houston Area contacted the Secretary of State’s office about the lack of new voter registration applications,” she said. “The response was dismissive – despite past practices, the Office is now saying that providing voter registration forms to the League is not in the budget, there is a paper shortage, and the League should look elsewhere for subsidies.”
Taylor noted that the League of Women Voters Houston “requested 16,000 voter registration forms,” adding, “That alone would have been 1/8 of our total supply received in our first shipment. When we told them we couldn’t fulfill that large of an order at this time, they requested 8,000 instead.”
He sent CNN the response that he says was directed to the League of Women Voters: “Due to several factors including vendor delays and budgetary constraints, we are not available to provide this volume of applications. We are working diligently to fulfill all requests with a reasonable amount given the current circumstances. We have offered a copy of the print-ready pdfs to your organization so that they can print the desired quantity.”
Taylor said they had explained that organizations and interest groups can get 1,000 to 2,000 forms at a time, and if they need more they can come back and request them.
CNN’s Shawna Mizelle contributed to this report.