Midterm Elections 2022: Harris Co. votes cast during court-ordered extended hour to be set aside

Texas Organizing Project filed suit to extend polling for an hour past the 7 p.m. closure due to delays earlier in the day.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Provisional ballots set aside after Harris Co. polls ordered to stay open
The county's elections administrator announced the development after a lawsuit kept polls open through 8 p.m. But those ballots aren't being thrown out.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Provisional ballots cast in the extended hour after Harris County polls were scheduled to close at 7 p.m. are not being counted toward Tuesday's tally, the county's elections administrator announced late in the evening.

Clifford Tatum clarified the process hours after voter-advocacy group Texas Organizing Project filed suit to keep polls open until 8 p.m. because of polling delays earlier in the day. The lawsuit claims that certain polling locations were not opened in a timely manner at the start of Election Day.

A judge granted an extension for voting hours at polling locations in Harris County.

However, Tatum explained that the Texas Supreme Court ruled any votes cast provisionally during the 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. period were not being counted.

In accordance with the earlier ruling, polling locations kept ballots cast during the extended period separate from those cast before it. Tatum added the provisional ballots aren't being tossed out and would be set to the side until he receives further instructions from the Texas secretary of state, district court, or Texas Supreme Court.

Polls had been otherwise scheduled to close at 7 p.m. Anyone in line at 7 p.m. was allowed to vote.

The lawsuit contains affidavits from more than a dozen voters who experienced delays when they arrived on Election Day to vote in Harris County.

One voter said she arrived at a BakerRipley polling location at 6:50 a.m. on Election Day and there were already 100 people in line. The lawsuit said the location didn't open until around 11 a.m. despite the fact that polls were supposed to open at 7 a.m. The lawsuit alleges that at 8 a.m., some people in line started to leave.

At the Sunnyside Multiservice Center, a poll monitor said there were also 100 people in line at 7 a.m., but the machines didn't start working until 9:23 a.m., according to the lawsuit. The worker said "I witnessed over 200 vehicles pull up" to that location and "be redirected by poll workers to one of the seven (other) locations between 7:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m."

Earlier in the day, a judge in Bell County granted a request to keep its polls open until 8 p.m.

As of 8 p.m., Tatum reported about 1 million ballots were cast in person on Tuesday.

Election Day is here! In addition to poll workers, there will be monitors from the State of Texas and Harris County at the request of the mayor, county judge and county attorney.

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