Harris County officials consider paying staff to assist with elections

Nick Natario Image
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Harris County officials consider paying staff to assist with elections
Harris County officials want to pay workers to help make Election Day seamless by reducing lines and making sure voting sites have paper.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Think of it like an Army reserve for Election Day. That's what could be coming to help improve Harris County's elections.

In an effort to help with elections, Harris County has turned to its own. There's a program where county workers can assist.

It's been in place for a year, but a new item could be approved that the elections administrator said will make the program more stable and efficient.

"During an election season when they need those boots on the ground, they have them via these workers, and they're fully trained so they can seamlessly move into the operations," Rice University Political Science Professor Mark Jones said.

The elections administrator wants to give county workers money to assist with elections. We aren't sure how much they could be paid.

An incentive that Jones said could get more people involved.

"This is something that may help," Jones explained. "It certainly probably can't hurt. We will only know, though, when 2024 runs around in the fall when we have our next major election test if having these additional workers will reduce lines, make things operate more seamlessly, and make sure every site has paper."

READ MORE: Lt. Gov. Patrick calls for new election in Harris Co., alleging some voting places didn't have paper

Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum declined to interview with Eyewitness News, but his office sent ABC13 the following statement:

"We have been discussing with the County Administrator options to fortify and expand the existing county volunteer program to a formal program that is more stable and efficient. These are continued discussions about expanding what has been deployed for countywide elections over the past two years."

Paying county workers to assist with the election isn't the only election-related item on Tuesday's agenda. The lone Republican wants to know when the county election commission will meet.

The elections commission hasn't met in four months. After an elections assessment showed issues in November with paper, technology, and communication, he'd like to see the elections commission meet.

"It's probably not meeting because the people who control the levers of power don't want uncomfortable questions asked. And if the commission met, those uncomfortable questions would be asked not just by Republicans, but some Democrats on the commission as well," Jones said.

We won't have to wait long to find out what happens. The commissioners' court is scheduled to meet Tuesday morning. ABC13 will be there and let you know what happens.

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A spokesperson for the secretary of state's office said only a court order could force a redo of elections.