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This is all so dumb

I’m going to quote a large swath of this Reform Austin story because it sums up what has been happening the past couple of days better than I could.

Gov. Greg Abbott called for an investigation into Harris County’s election practices last Tuesday, saying that he wanted to get answers as to why a myriad of election administration issues occurred. Delayed openings at some polling places openings, a shortage of paper ballots at some polls, and understaffing problems plagued the county on election day.

“The allegations of election improprieties in our state’s largest county may result from anything ranging from malfeasance to blatant criminal conduct,” Abbott said in a statement but did not offer further details.

He added: “Voters in Harris County deserve to know what happened. Integrity in the election process is essential. To achieve that standard, a thorough investigation is warranted.”

But Harris County Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum responded that the county is “committed to transparency” and is already participating in the state’s election audit process.

“The office is currently reviewing issues and claims made about Election Day and will include these findings in a post-elections report to be shared promptly with the Harris County Elections Commission and the County Commissioner Court,” Tatum said in an emailed statement.

Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said that any problems on Election Day were technological and were related to the new voting machines Harris County was forced to purchase to bring the county into compliance with the new state law.

That law mandated the new models would be used as they produce a paper backup in addition to electronically capturing voter input. GOP state legislators passed the legislation called SB1 in their post-2020 “election integrity” campaign, despite any evidence of irregularities or fraud.

“Rather than waste resources on this nonsense, Gov. Abbott ought to investigate how many permitless guns have been used in violent crime,” Garcia said.

Also Monday, the Harris County Republican Party filed a lawsuit against Tatum and the county, alleging paper shortages at some voting centers amounted to violations of the Texas Election Code.

But Harris County Democratic Party Chair Odus Evbagharu disputed the GOP’s assertions, saying that “The claim that there was, like, thousands and thousands of people who were disenfranchised, there’s no claim to that, there’s no proof of that,” Evbagharu said.

The delayed openings of roughly a dozen polling places on election day led a state district judge to allow an extra hour of voting time at those sites in response to a last-minute lawsuit filed by progressive advocates.

The Texas Civil Rights Project argued the case on behalf of the Texas Organizing Project, which sued to keep polls open. The suit stated it felt compelled to take legal action because election operation disruption earlier that day had caused voter disenfranchisement.

Hani Mirza, voting rights program director at the Texas Civil Rights Project said in a statement “We went to court because these closures and errors, especially in communities of color across Harris County, robbed voters of the opportunity to cast their ballot.”

Harris County District Judge Dawn Rogers ruled the effort was likely to prevail, and that the government had infringed upon voters’ rights, and thus she approved the additional time.

Not surprisingly, Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office appealed the organization’s suit immediately, prompting the Texas Supreme Court to order the county to segregate votes cast during the extension while it reviews the judge’s action.

Honestly, all things considered, I thought Election Day didn’t go as badly as some people are saying. There were some glitches, and for sure we could do a better job with the paper, but we’re talking twenty-some locations out of 782. One reason we have so many locations is to give people plenty of other options if the place they went to is having issues. It’s a pretty small percentage, and so far as I can tell, no one has come forward to say that they were prevented from voting. Even more, the obvious remedy to voting locations that opened late or had to shut down for a period while paper issues were being sorted would have been to allow voting to go on for some extra time, so that anyone who was unable to get to another location and could not return before 7 PM would still have a chance to vote. Which the Texas Organizing Project and the Texas Civil Rights Project sought to do and got an order from a district court judge, which was then opposed by Ken Paxton and shot down by the Supreme Court. You can’t have it both ways.

The Elections Office is going to have to make its mandated reports. There was already going to be an audit of the November election, in case anyone has forgotten. Paxton is going to do whatever he’s going to do. If the local GOP is claiming that there was some kind of conspiracy to make it harder for Republicans to vote – pro tip: never believe a word Andy Taylor says – all I can say is good luck proving intent. Until shown otherwise, this all looks like a bunch of hot air and sour grapes. The Trib, the Chron, and the Press have more.

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9 Comments

  1. Frederick says:

    Is this the same lying Texas governor who has been claiming “rampant fraud” for years now without any proof?

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    IF there was any voter suppression in Harris County, it must be investigated, discovered, and reprimanded.

  3. C.L. says:

    Yup, same guy who said the grid was fixed.

  4. Sue says:

    I’m going to take a wild guess that your reaction would have been different had it been 23 polls in Democrat areas that had run out of ballot paper.

  5. […] here for the background. Ogg, who was not exactly an asset to Democrats in this election, has taken some […]

  6. C.L. says:

    @Sue… I’ve yet to hear of anyone who claims to have been denied the ability to vote in this most recent election, only reports of folks having to wait for a paper delivery to the polling station that had probs (<3% of all).

    Also, aren't all polling stations open to all registered voters regardless of said voter's political leanings ? How could a station than ran out of paper be considered a 'Republican' or 'Democrat' station to begin with ?…because the majority of voters in that district tend to vote red or blue ? If the paper ran out, would all voters at that station be inconvenienced until the needed stock arrived ?

    Another NothingBurger.

  7. C.L. says:

    No, ma’am, it would not have. To my knowledge, no one was denied the ability to vote in the election.

  8. mollusk says:

    Totally anecdotal to be sure, but my usual polling place now that we can go anywhere was not even there this time… so rather than taking a walk at lunchtime I took some of my workday to drive to another site. Sure, there may have been a few folks who chose to just give up, but I sincerely doubt it was enough to move even the most sensitive of needles.

    If having results earlier was really a necessary thing and I were the Ruler Of Elections I’d set up several processing centers around the county and stock each with tabulation equipment rather than having a total of two readers. (and I’d restore my old fave polling place, which always seemed to have at least as many people as my neighborhood one)

  9. Chris Daniel says:

    a couple of points, without further comment:

    1) the tablets at check in showed the EA in real time how many people voted in real-time; so when calls to his office and his cell went unanswered at the 23+ large republican box locations, it is harder to excuse not replenishing them with enough ballot paper timely–or not anticipating when they would run out in.

    2) it appears more than half the 700+ had issues at start up: Park lakes, Kingwood Civic, and Fall Creek all took more than 2 hours to get up to fully operational just in my area (I documented and reported). Many started with only half the controllers working (which control a row of voting machines) and appeared to have fewer machines than needed based on historic voting patterns.

    3) There are more than 8000 voters that voted a full ballot instead of provisional ballot that were on the ineligible/ suspense list.

    4) There are about 4000 provisional ballots that were cast between 7-8, but most were apparently not segregated per court order and counted in the full count.

    5) There were approximately 66k voters that registered at a commercial residence or a private PO Box, etc. that may have voted in error

    6) the reconciliation report shows more than 6000 ballots than people