It seems that no Texan is immune from the difficulties of trying to cast a ballot and adhere to the state’s stringent new voting laws. According to the Austin American-Statesman, it took Willie Nelson and his wife, Annie D’Angelo-Nelson, two attempts before they were able to vote absentee in the recent primary. D’Angelo-Nelson told the newspaper that it was “ridiculously difficult” to try and cast a ballot. The two had trouble with SB 1’s identification requirement that states a voter must use the same ID to cast a ballot as the one they used when they first registered to vote. D’Angelo-Nelson described the advice she was given, which was to simply list every ID she could think of in hopes of there being a match.
“I looked up the advice and the advice was: put every number you know. It's just not right,” D’Angelo-Nelson told the newspaper. It’s not just high-profile Texans whose ballots were in danger of not being counted: Across 187 of Texas’ 254 counties, 13% of mail-in ballots were rejected—a startlingly high number compared with the under 1% of rejections logged in Texas during the 2020 election. “If they're doing it to Willie Nelson, what happens to an 89-year-old woman at home without a lot of help? I'm 65, and I'm fairly technologically capable, and I can find ways. But what happens to all those people? It's just not fair,” D’Angelo-Nelson told the Austin American-Statesman.
Well before the March 1 primary’s early voting period began, Nelson protested Texas’ restrictive voting laws during a demonstration in front of the Texas Capitol last year. Nelson led the crowd in a rendition of “Vote ‘Em Out” and slammed the more discriminatory elements of SB1. “Laws making it more difficult for people to vote are un-American and are intended to punish poor people, people of color, the elderly, and disabled. Why? If you can't win playing by the rules, then it's you and your platform—not everyone else's ability to vote,” Nelson said in a statement ahead of the rally.
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Multiple lawsuits have been filed over SB 1, including a Justice Department lawsuit stating that the law violates section 208 of the Voting Rights Act, which allows voters who need assistance to be provided help by a person of the voter’s choice. SB 1 does not allow that to happen. Additionally, the Justice Department claims SB 1 violates Section 101 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it allows for ballots to be rejected based on requirements that “are not material to establishing a voter’s eligibility to cast a ballot.”