Late openings, lack of paper and bad communication, Harris County leaders hear about election issues

Nick Natario Image
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Harris Co. votes still not counted 9 days after Election Day
Harris County leaders still don't know the extent of what went wrong during Election Day, although they're making suggestions on how to improve future polls.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A week after the election, votes are still being counted in Harris County as leaders still don't know the extent of what went wrong. Although, they're making suggestions on improving future elections.

The voting booths are where voters make their voices heard, but when there are issues, commissioners court is another place where neighbors can voice concerns.

Tuesday's meeting was full of outbursts as frustration boiled over what went wrong with last week's midterm election.

"You put us in an unsafe position by not having enough ballots. Me as a precinct judge, we did everything correctly, and yet you didn't give us the ballots," one person said.

The election administrator said polling places opened late, ran out of paper, and had communication issues, but administrator Clifford Tatum doesn't know how bad it was yet.

"What I'm afraid will happen is, if I go too high and I attempt to pull it back, then it'll be I'm making up numbers," Tatum said.

Tatum gave commissioners ways they could improve future elections. He said it starts with better training. He also wants a way to improve communication. Currently, if a judge needs a technician, and one is dispatched, there's no way to track if the work is completed.

"I've got to have a real-time tool that tracks who they are, where they are, and how they're performing," Tatum explained. The other big issue, Tatum said is having full-time staffers. Many of the workers are volunteers or come from other county departments.

"I'm talking about a sustained funding mechanism that allows the elections administrator's office to add on personal to help manage the process," Tatum said.

These are changes election officials hope will lead to faster results, but some aren't so sure.

"We heard the same thing in March," Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey said. "We heard the same thing this summer. We heard this, yet nothing is being done about it."

Not only is the issue being looked at in Harris County, but also at the state level.

Gov. Greg Abbott has called for an investigation. On Tuesday, Texas senators and representatives said they plan to introduce legislation this upcoming session to look into voting issues in Harris County and ways to improve problems.

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