Harris County district attorney launches investigation into reported election issues

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Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Gov. Abbott calling for investigation into Harris Co. election issues
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Gov. Greg Abbott called on an investigation into Harris County's Election Day issues. The county's GOP party is also expected to support the call.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has launched an investigation into alleged issues with the county's Midterm Election.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Ogg said the county has called on the Texas Rangers for assistance with the investigation.

The video above is from a previous report.

They'll present their findings to a Harris County grand jury.

The DA's office issued the following statement on Wednesday:

"Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy. When we get credible complaints of election irregularities, we are statutorily required to investigate. That's why we've called for the assistance of the Texas Rangers. The results of their investigation will be turned over to a Harris County grand jury. We do this regardless of the party affiliation of the complainants. After the 2020 election, we charged three Democrats and two Republicans. It is my duty as the elected District Attorney to follow the evidence and follow the law, and I will."

The statement comes two days after Gov. Greg Abbott called for an investigation into Harris County's Election Day process.

READ MORE: Insufficient paper ballots in GOP precincts among allegations against Harris County, Abbott says

"The allegations of election improprieties in our state's largest county may result from anything ranging from malfeasance to blatant criminal conduct," Abbott's office wrote in a statement. "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."

The Harris County's elections administrator, Clifford Tatum, said his office will participate in a Texas Secretary of State Audit and has already been in contact with the auditing team regarding the election. Tatum also said his 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."

In the immediate wake of Abbott's call, the Harris County Republican Party filed a civil lawsuit against Tatum.

The party claims, among several issues, 23 polling locations, most of them in GOP strongholds, were without paper, prompting voters to be turned away. Party officials did not offer proof of who the voters were.

On Election Day in Harris County, there were multiple problems with voting machines, which ushered in multiple lawsuits against the elections administrator by voter advocacy groups, including the Texas Organizing Project and the Texas Civil Rights Project, to allow the county's polling places to stay open for an hour past the 7 p.m. closing time.

A judge granted a temporary restraining order, allowing provisional ballots to be cast during the extra hour. Later on the same evening, the Texas Supreme Court ruled those votes, which the elections administrator estimated to be about 2,000 total, would not count towards the Election Day tally, and Tatum said they would be kept separate from the other ballots pending further instruction from the Secretary of State's office.

The Harris County GOP, though, alleges Tatum and those groups were part of an "unholy alliance" to collude.

In the days following the election, the county became the last in Texas to complete its ballot count. Tatum's office also defended itself from allegations from the Harris County Republican Party, which accused the county of filing the lawsuits to keep polling places open.