People vote at the Carver Branch Library in Austin, Texas on Tuesday. (Montinique Monroe/Getty Images)

The midterm election season kicked off Tuesday in Texas — with poll workers, voters and suffrage activists reporting several issues, including poll worker shortages, as Texans vote in person.

But Lone Star State election officials say the biggest challenge still looms: the scramble to secure the higher-than-usual number of mail-in ballots flagged for potential rejection under the country’s restrictive new election law. the state.

Officials in Harris County — home to Houston — had flagged nearly 30% of more than 38,000 mail-in ballots received Monday as defective because voters failed to include identifying information on the envelope. back, County Elections Chief Isabel Longoria told reporters on Tuesday. Morning.

That means voters are likely to cast more provisional ballots than usual on Election Day, she added.

Tuesday marks the first primaries of the year. In Texas, the results will determine general election matches for governor and a host of statewide and legislative offices. If no candidate gets more than 50% support, a second round is scheduled for May.

Tuesday also marks the first test of a new voting law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature last year. The law imposes new identification requirements for voting by mail, empowers partisan poll watchers and prohibits practices used by Harris County in 2020, such as round-the-clock voting and drive-thru voting.

Texans who have the right to vote by mail have felt the first consequences of the new law. This requires them to include identification numbers both when applying for an absentee ballot and again on the inside flap of the envelope they use to return the ballot – a process that has caused some stumbles. many people in recent weeks.

Those issues resurfaced at the polls on Tuesday.

Joseph Egbon said he voted in person on Tuesday because election officials rejected his mail-in ballot a few days ago.

“It wasn’t until last week that they sent me the letter,” Egbon told CNN. “I didn’t want to argue, so I said, ‘Let me carry on,’ and vote in person.

Egbon said it was relatively easy to do. It only took him 15 minutes to vote at Bayland Park Community Center in southwest Houston.

Only a subset of Texas voters are eligible to vote by mail. They include people 65 and older, people who will be out of county, and voters with disabilities or illness.

Read the full story here.