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New state voting laws impacting mail-in ballot applications ahead of 1st election under Senate Bill 1

Some voters say these additional requirements are a form of voter suppression.

BEAUMONT, Texas — With only one week until the primaries, mail-in ballots are getting even more attention than before. This will be the first election under the new state voting law Senate Bill 1.

The new law brings elicits passion on both sides, but how is it affecting voters? These are the same laws that Democrats protested by leaving the state back in August.

A couple was left unsure of what to do after their mail-in ballot applications were rejected because of the new rules spelled out under Senate Bill 1. So, they decided to get help asking someone to drive them to the polls so they didn't have to rely on the mail.

RELATED: Interim Jefferson County Clerk provides tips to avoid common mail-in ballot mistakes

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"We demonstrated the power of mail-in balance in our last national election, and we won,” said Pastor Arion Reynolds Jr. “So now they are trying to do everything that is perfectly possible to make sure that that will not happen again. And that's what Senate Bill one is all about."

These primaries are the first election under the new election laws in Senate Bill 1.

"For the first time in history, absentee ballot voters are allowed to cure any defects on their ballot. So, if their ballot is rejected for any reason, they're given the opportunity to fix that,” said Judy Nichols Jefferson County GOP chair.

Under the new law, voters must send in a separate form to request mail-in ballots and provide their Social Security or driver’s license number. If something is wrong with the application, it will be returned, so they can fix it.

But some voters, like Pastor Reynolds, President of the People's Political Action Committee in Beaumont, said these additional requirements are a form of voter suppression.

"I was one of those who marched in the 60s to get the right to vote. And so today we're not being denied the right to vote -The effort now is to suppress us where we can't vote,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said minority voters are seeing about 1 in 3 mail-in ballots be returned.

A Southeast Texas resident showed 12News her returned ballot application on Tuesday. It didn't give a reason why it was returned. The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she drove to the polls instead of relying on a mail-in ballot.

Nichols said most returned ballots are because people didn't provide their Social Security or driver’s license numbers.

“With anything new, there's a bit of a learning curve, and the early voting ballot board has bent over backward including getting to the post office after they closed and getting some of those ballots back in the mail on the same day, to get these issues rectified so that every vote can count," Nichols said.

Some organizers are also frustrated over the timing of these returned mail-in ballots.

Post offices were closed on Monday for Presidents' Day. So, they feel it is giving voters even less time to get those ballots back in time.

If your ballot was returned, remember it must be received by Tuesday, March 1, by 7 p.m.

RELATED: 2022 Texas midterm primary voter guide

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