WATCH: House holds hearing on ensuring free and fair access to voting in Texas

The House Administration Committee held a hearing on ensuring free and fair access to voting in Texas on Thursday.

Watch the hearing in the player above.

Texas threw out mail votes at an abnormally high rate during the nation’s first primary of 2022, rejecting nearly 23,000 ballots outright under tougher voting rules that are part of a broad campaign by Republicans to reshape American elections, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

Roughly 13 percent of mail ballots returned in the March 1 primary were discarded and uncounted across 187 counties in Texas, and while historical primary comparisons are lacking, it is a rare double-digit rejection rate that would be far beyond what is typical in a general election, when experts say anything above 2 percent is usually cause for attention.

Republicans promised new layers of voting rules would make it “easier to vote and harder to cheat.” But the final numbers recorded by AP lay bare the glaring gulf between that objective and the obstacles, frustration and tens of thousands of uncounted votes resulting from tighter restrictions and rushed implementation.

The unusually high rejection rate to start America’s midterm election season is likely to put more attention on changes to the ballot box elsewhere in the country. Texas’ election was the debut of more restrictive voting rules the GOP raced to put on the books across the U.S. in time for the midterm elections, a push that took particular aim at mail voting that soared in popularity during the pandemic.

At least 17 other states in the coming months will cast ballots under tougher election laws, in part driven by former President Donald Trump’s baseless and persistent claims of rampant fraud in the 2020 election. The rejected ballots in Texas alone far exceeds the hundreds of even possible voter fraud cases the AP has previously identified in six battleground states that Trump disputed.