Investigation Into Election Officials’ Conduct Opened In Texas County

After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for an investigation into the county’s election process, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has launched a probe into the matter.

Abbott said in a statement that voters “deserve to know what happened” and that a “thorough investigation” is needed to ensure the integrity of the election process. He defined the allegations as “anything ranging from malfeasance to blatant criminal conduct.”

Harris County contains all of Houston as well as several other neighboring communities. The state’s largest county has a population of approximately 4.1 million.

Ogg, a Democrat, requested assistance from the Texas Rangers in looking into several issues in the midterm elections, including running out of ballot paper and polling places staying open late.

She reported that her office received a referral from the Texas Secretary of State’s Office for a probe.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick seconded the call for an investigation, and several Harris County residents expressed their frustrations at Tuesday’s County Commission Court meeting.

The issues were reportedly far-reaching in a county that is larger than some states. Voting was extended for an hour by court order after roughly a dozen election sites opened late.

Some polling places ran out of paper ballots, though county elections administrator Clifford Tatum said that staff was sent to deliver additional ballots to affected sites.

There were also instances reported where technical issues did not receive a response from election staff.

Tatum said he is reaching out to each election judge for the county’s 782 polling locations to get a report on the scope of the midterm election issues. He had only been on the job for a few months after previous elections administrator Isabel Longoria resigned in March.

She left under pressure from both parties over slow election counts after the March primary. There were issues with new voting machines, and the election night returns missed some 10,000 ballots.

That fiasco resulted in a lawsuit from the Harris County GOP, and the Republican organization again filed suit this week against the county. The party also alleges spoiled ballots were not properly handled and an instance where a voter’s ballot could not be scanned.