AUSTIN, Tex. — More than 27,000 mail ballots in Texas were flagged for rejection in the first test of new voting restrictions enacted across the U.S., according to an analysis by The Associated Press.
The preliminary figures were reported by Texas counties after they counted ballots from the state’s primary election on March 1.
Rejected mail ballots are relatively uncommon in a typical election.
But the initial rejection rate among mail voters in the Texas primary was roughly 17% across 120 counties, according to county-by-county figures obtained by AP.
Those counties accounted for the vast majority of the nearly 3 million voters in Texas’ first-in-the-nation primary.
Although the final number of discounted ballots will be lower, the early numbers suggest Texas’ rejection rate will far exceed the 2020 general election, when federal data showed that less than 1% of mail ballots statewide were rejected.
For now, the numbers do not represent how many Texas ballots were effectively thrown out. Voters had until Monday to “fix” rejected mail ballots, which in most cases meant providing identification that is now required under a sweeping law signed last fall by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
New requirements include listing an identification number — either a driver’s license or a Social Security number — on the ballot’s carrier envelope.
That number must match the county’s records.
If a ballot is rejected, voters could add an ID number via an online ballot tracking system, go to the county’s election offices and fix the problem in person, or vote with a provisional ballot on election day.
County election officers say they worked feverishly to contact those voters in time, in many cases successfully, and a full and final tally of rejected ballots in Texas is expected to come into focus in the coming days.
But already, scores of mail ballots have been disqualified for good. Abbott’s office did not return the Associates Press’ requests for comment about the number of rejected ballots.
At least 17 other states will also vote this year under new voting laws, many pushed by Republican lawmakers who especially took aim at mail ballots after states expanded options to make voting safer during the coronavirus outbreak.
Some of the restrictions were fueled by the continued false claims in the GOP about widespread fraud in President Joe Biden’s victory.