To avoid any issues at the polls, Harris County created first-ever security task force

Tom Abrahams Image
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Harris County creates first-ever security task force
People in Harris County are voting in record numbers, and officials aren't taking any risks. How was this task force assembled and what exactly are they doing to keep your voting experience safe? ABC13's Tom Abrahams explains.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Election security is certainly an issue many have heard a lot about this year, and ABC13 has learned that Harris County has a task force dedicated to that endeavor.

As Harris County heads to the polls in record numbers over the first full week of early voting, there are people watching what happens with a critical eye.

The brand-new Harris County Election Security Task Force is up and running to make sure voters have safe, free and fair elections.

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"We wanted to make sure that people could vote safely and there would be no problems and this is unprecedented," said special assistant Harris County attorney Terence O'Rourke during an interview on Monday.

The task force involves four agencies: the Harris County Attorney's Office, the district attorney's office, the county clerk, and local law enforcement led by Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen.

The planning took weeks and the task force stood up on Tuesday, Oct. 13, the first day of early voting.

"This has never happened before and we're doing this to make sure nothing happens," O'Rourke said. "This truly is unprecedented."

The task force is headquartered in an office where the agencies can communicate in person to alleviate any potential issues as quickly as they're reported.

Eyewitness News is told that there are currently two election-related investigations, but the complaints are not yet substantiated.

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But in all cases, civil or criminal action is possible.

"This is getting ahead of the curve," O'Rourke said. "This is to stop things before they happen in the most subtle way possible. This is going to be the biggest election in the history of Houston/Harris County and the level of political sensitivity is higher. And because we've got more people voting, lots of people who have never voted before, and because the system itself is different. We've got early voting locations, people are voting in places they've never been before and they are voting in manners they've never been. We've got drive-thru voting. So, the possibility of conflict is great."

There is a hotline number for the security task force. If you spot an issue, you're asked to call 713-755-7628 or 713-755-6965.

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