Abbott Calls For Investigation Of Harris County Elections

Abbott Calls For Investigation Of Harris County Elections

Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, demanded on Monday that state officials look into how the midterm elections were handled in Harris County, where several polling places opened late on Election Day and some ran out of ballot paper, causing delays for voters and requiring a judge to keep voting locations open later than expected.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Abbott said he was requesting that the Texas Rangers, the Texas Secretary of State, and the Texas Attorney General’s Office “initiate investigations into allegations of improprieties” regarding the way the Nov. 8 election was conducted in Harris County, the state’s largest county and home to Houston.

The governor claimed that the aforementioned problems, together with personnel shortages at some polling centres and, in at least one instance, misplaced keys to voting machines that resulted in a voting centre opening more than four hours late, were “frustrating by confusion and delays” for voters.

In his statement, Abbott, a Republican who defeated Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke in the general election but lost in Harris County, said that there were “insufficient paper ballots in Republican precincts.”

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According to Abbott, the charges of voting irregularities in the county with the largest population in our state “may result from anything ranging from malfeasance to flagrant criminal action.” “Harris County voters deserve to know what transpired. Election process integrity is crucial. It requires a thorough inquiry to meet that criterion.

In a statement released on Monday, Clifford Tatum, the administrator of Harris County Elections, stated that his agency is “completely dedicated to transparency regarding the processes and procedures utilised” during the midterm elections. He added that the Secretary of State’s office, which is in charge of regulating elections in Texas, has been in touch with Harris County regarding its selection to take part in the audit of the 2022 elections.

Four Texas counties, including Harris County, were chosen to have their 2020 general election results audited. The Harris County Elections Commission and the County Commissioner Court will receive a post-elections report with the results as soon as possible, according to Tatum. “The office is now evaluating problems and accusations made about Election Day,” she added.

An email and call seeking comment from the office of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat who defeated Republican opponent Alexandra del Moral Mealer to win re-election, did not immediately receive a response. Democratic Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who was not on the ballot this year, criticised Abbott’s request for a probe.

Ellis said in a statement that Abbott and election sceptics in Texas have been preparing to cast doubt on Harris County’s midterm elections for more than a year by “taking a page from (Donald) Trump’s 2020 election subversion playbook.”

The Harris County Democratic Party chair, Odus Evbagharu, referred to Abbott’s declaration as “political theatre.” In the days before early voting began, the attorney general’s office and the secretary of state’s office made an announcement that they would send election observers to Harris County.

Following this, voting rights advocacy organisations and elected officials in Houston and Harris County asked the U.S. Department of Justice, which was present in the county on Election Day, to send federal elections monitors.

Abbott actually deployed a team to monitor the Harris County elections last week, so it’s almost comical that he has sought this probe, Evbagharu said in a statement. Was Abbott’s group inefficient? Will Abbott conduct his own investigation? The fact that Abbott and other (Republican) state governors are attempting to criminalise election workers is our main worry.

In Harris County, which ran 782 polling locations on Election Day plus 99 locations for early voting, more than 1 million people cast votes for the midterm elections. Last Thursday, during a press conference, Tatum acknowledged the paper shortages and sluggish openings on Election Day and promised to remedy them after the results were in.

Judge Dawn Rogers decided that polls could stay open an hour later than planned, until 8 p.m., in response to a lawsuit the Texas Organizing Project filed on election day against Harris County, asking for an additional hour of voting because several locations had opened after the scheduled 7 a.m. start time.

Her decision was then contested before the Texas Supreme Court, which decided the provisional ballots that were later presented needed to be kept apart from the general count while the legal procedure was being carried out.