Harris County at odds with state involving extra inspectors during Election Day ballot counting

Chaz Miller Image
Saturday, October 22, 2022
The Secretary of State's Office notifies Harris County of additional inspectors present during election ballot counting
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After two years of looking into the county's previous election process, the Secretary of State's Office said that record-keeping issues are why extra inspectors are needed.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Early voting for the November midterms begins on Monday, Oct. 24, amid state and Harris County leaders sparring back and forth over the issue of inspectors during ballot counting.

For almost two years, the Secretary of State's Office has been looking into Harris County's election practices and says that record-keeping issues necessitate the presence of more inspectors this election cycle.

Harris County learned of this in a letter sent to officials on Tuesday from the Secretary of State's office.

Additionally, that same letter informed the county that Attorney General Ken Paxton's Office is sending a task force to oversee the counting process.

The Secretary of State's Office says they will have 15 inspectors in 2022 as opposed to the usual five in previous years.

SEE ALSO: Harris County election administrators at odds over Election Day process after polls close

They will be checking logs to ensure things are being done correctly, as well as overseeing the counting process in its entirety.

In a statement to ABC13, Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee referred to this as "just another attempt to undermine the important work of local election officials."

Harris County Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum held a press conference on Friday and acknowledged it's commonplace for inspectors from the state to be present when ballots are counted.

A spokesperson for his office said the attorney general's role is where they're trying to get further clarification.

ABC13 reached out to Paxton's office but hasn't heard back.

Harris County officials have also asked the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department to come in and oversee the inspectors coming in on Election Day.

The Secretary of State's Office said in a statement to ABC13 that they have "never before seen a request for the Department of Justice to 'monitor the monitors.'"

According to the Department of Justice's website, there have been 18 examples in Texas where federal overseers were called in to monitor county elections, but why that was necessitated was omitted.

The Justice Department goes through a process to determine if they're needed. They don't just show up when called.

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RELATED LINKS:

  • Mail-in ballots will arrive to Harris County voters soon, but there's concern many will be rejected
  • Harris County GOP files lawsuit against Election Administrator over mischaracterized ballots
  • 10K mail-in ballots not added into Harris County's election night count, officials say