More than 27,000 mail-in ballots in the Texas primary elections were flagged for rejection under the state’s new election integrity law, according to a report.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the flagged ballots affected both Republicans and Democrats who voted in Texas‘ first-in-the-nation primary last week, totaling approximately 17% of mail-in votes in 120 counties. The 27,000 number is an initial figure, and is expected to drop significantly. Still, AP notes that the mail ballot rejection rate will likely be far more than the rejection rate of the 2020 election, where less than 1% of mail-in ballots were rejected.
AP noted that voters were given until Monday to fix discrepancies in their ballots, which, in most cases, is simply providing identification, which is required by the law. Voters are required to list an ID number— either a driver’s license or a Social Security number which matches county records for each voter— on the ballot envelope. If a ballot is rejected upon receipt, voters can use the state’s ballot tracking system or go to the county election office to add an ID number, or they can vote using a provisional ballot on election day. County election officials told AP they worked hard to contact voters whose ballots had been rejected, with many making contact in time for them to fix the discrepancies.
A final count of rejected ballots is expected in the coming days. The Texas law requires counties to publish a “reconciliation report” after the election, which includes the total number of mail ballots and how many were flagged for rejection.
The high rejection rates were not partisan, either. Both Democratic and Republican counties struggled with high rejection rates. Harris County, Texas’ largest and home to the city of Houston, flagged more than 11,000 ballots for rejection as of March 2, but that number dropped to less than 3300 only a day later. Williamson County, in the suburbs of Austin, rejected 521 ballots, about 11.5% of the county’s mail-in votes. The border county of El Paso rejected 725 ballots, about 16% of the mail-in vote. Parker County flagged 250 out of about 1,100 mail ballots, about 23%
Texas Secretary of State John Scott said that the high rejection rates were simply a result of people not being familiar with the new requirements, and expected that future elections, like the upcoming primary runoffs in May, would have much lower rejection rates. Williamson County elections administrator Christopher Davis expressed similar hopes. “The hope is we knock down that rejection rate,” he told AP.
Texas passed the election integrity law, which requires voters to submit identification on both their mail-in ballot application and the ballot itself. The Daily Wire reported:
“Election integrity is now law in Texas,” Abbott said before signing.
The bill takes several measures to ensure integrity in casting ballots, instituting a ban on drive-through and round-the-clock voting, and adding an ID requirement for mail-in and absentee ballots.
“Those who do want to vote-by-mail must now provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number when they’re applying for a mail-in ballot and when they send it back in,” the Daily Mail explained. The same measure also mandates that polling locations in areas with more than 55,000 residents offer at least 12 hours of early voting.