Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments from the Secretary of State's office regarding a shortage of voter registration forms made available to interest groups

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo held a press conference Jan. 19 to respond to reported challenges facing voters attempting to register ahead of the March 1 primaries.

Hidalgo referred to new regulations enacted by Texas’ Senate Bill 1, passed during the legislative session in August. The bill enacted sweeping changes to voter registration and mail ballot applications. The March primary will be the first election where SB 1 will take effect. Harris County has flagged 35% of mail-in ballot applications for rejections to date, Hidalgo said.

“It’s a solution in search of a problem,” Hidalgo said. “The people who passed those laws in the last session and who are defending them now know [those rejections] could sway the election.”

Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria reported the most common problems facing both mail-in ballot applications and voter registrations include voters failing to include newly required information, or for older voters, information that is inconsistent with previously recorded data, requiring the county to track them down to confirm the voter is who they say they are.

"Definitively, the increase [in flagged registrations] we are seeing is the direct result and consequence of the passage of SB 1," Longoria said.

Hidalgo also expressed concerns over a reported paper shortage that limited the amount of voter registration cards available to interest groups such as the League of Women Voters. Longoria confirmed that Harris County had resources ready to ensure access to voter registration forms.

“We have resources in our warehouses, ... large printers,” Longoria said. “We shouldn’t be affected by the shortage.”

Sam Taylor, the Secretary of State's assistant director of communications, said in an email to Community Impact Newspaper that supply chain delays meant interest groups and officials who requested voter registration forms for distribution were limited from their initial requests. Taylor said due to changes to the voter registration form in Senate Bill 1, the Secretary of State's office had to restart its stockpile, ordering 100,000 generic English forms and 50,000 generic Spanish forms. Groups and officials requested a combined 128,065 English forms, Taylor said.

"We had to limit the number of forms we could distribute in bulk to these groups to make sure we could treat all groups equally," Taylor wrote. "Otherwise it would have been ‘first come, first serve,’ and we would have run out of applications within the first week."

Longoria said Harris County is performing “better than most” counties in terms of successful mail-in ballot applications, but could not provide specifics.

The deadline to register to vote for the March primary is Jan. 31, according to the Texas secretary of state’s office. Registered voters who need to update their information can do so through the state’s portal.

Mail-in ballots are limited to voters in certain categories, which can be found on the secretary of state’s website along with the application. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot for the March 1 primary is Feb. 14.

Harris County voters can call 713-755-6965 to request what information the county has for them to add to their applications.