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'It's a red flag': Counties see increase in rejected mail-in ballot applications under new Texas voting rules

Harris County's election administrator says the rejections -- and confusion among voters -- are a direct result of the controversial SB-1 voting bill.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — The March 1 primary in Texas is only six weeks away. It will be the first major election since SB 1, Texas' controversial new voting law went into effect. 

Election officials report hundreds of Texas voters are already having issues requesting mail in ballots.

"This is uncharted territory for us," said Isabel Longoria, Harris County election administrator. 

Longoria and her team are prepping for that critical primary.

"The Secretary of State sends us daily updates on how to make SB 1 happen, and it feels like a rushed process for something that's so important,"  Longoria said.

Under the new law, voters wanting a mail-in ballot must include their drivers license number or social security number on their application. Many applications are failing to meet the new ID requirements. 

"It's those kind of errors that are a direct result of SB 1, making it harder for voters to get through an already complex system," Longoria said. 

So far this year in Harris County, 16% of the 1,276 applications have been rejected. In the 2018 Texas primary, only 2.5 percent of 4,800 applications were rejected. 

"It's a red flag that we're watching," Longoria said. 

In Travis County, the problem is even worse with nearly 50% of mail-in ballot applications rejected there so far. 

"The confusion is going to have what I will call an equal effect on Democrat and Republican voters," said KHOU political analyst Bob Stein. 

Stein predicts these types of problems will only increase. 

"It may not have much impact in the primaries, but in November there will be a lot of concern," Stein said. 

To make sure your mail-in ballot request isn't rejected, Longoria's best advice is to include your phone number and/or email in the application so they can call you in case there's something that needs to be corrected.

And if you have any questions about the process, you can always call Harris County Elections at 713-755-6965. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot for the primary is Feb. 18.

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