While much of the media has been focused on the widespread problems experienced by voters in Maricopa County, Arizona, an election administration disaster has been simultaneously unfolding in Harris County, Texas. The problems began on Election Day, with extensive issues across the county which includes the city of Houston:
Tuesday’s election was marred with issues in Harris County that included delayed openings, malfunctioning equipment, and 23 polling sites that ran out of paper ballots, some of which were never replenished.
The county sought and obtained a court order to extend voting times an extra hour without notifying the Texas attorney general’s office, but then the Supreme Court of Texas issued a stay on the lower court, ordering that the provisional ballots cast by voters who got in line after 7:00 p.m. be segregated and not counted.
Some of the ballots were also counted over a longer time period than statutorily prescribed.
As a result, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for an investigation into the matter.
Integrity in the election process is essential.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) November 14, 2022
Voters in Harris County deserve to know what happened. pic.twitter.com/SSDymmCJAO
Shortly after, the Harris County GOP sued Harris County and its election administrator.
Attorney Andy Taylor says in addition to previously revealed issues, county did not segregate the post 7 pm ballots in accordance w/law and a court order.— Holly Hansen (@hollyshansen) November 14, 2022
Now, the Harris County District Attorney (a Democrat) has announced that she has opened an investigation into the matter:
"Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy. When we get credible complaints of election irregularities, we are statutorily required to investigate. That's why we've called for the assistance of the Texas Rangers. The results of their investigation will be turned over to a Harris County grand jury. We do this regardless of the party affiliation of the complainants. After the 2020 election, we charged three Democrats and two Republicans. It is my duty as the elected District Attorney to follow the evidence and follow the law, and I will."
The problems experienced in Harris County on Election Day are unacceptable. The silver lining is that people from both political parties are willing to work together to get to the bottom of the issues with the County's elections. Preventing voter disenfranchisement is something that should be a non-partisan issue.