Harris County clerk says 'we're going to face challenges' ahead of March 5 election

Pooja Lodhia Image
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
Harris County on upcoming election: 'We're going to face challenges'
The Harris County Clerk says the upcoming primary election may not go smoothly unless a major change is made.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- The Harris County clerk says the upcoming primary election may not go smoothly unless a major change is made. But both Republicans and Democrats will have to agree for it to happen.

"March 5, we're going to face challenges on Election Day, and that's just the slam answer," County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth said.

It's not what Harris County voters want to hear just two months away from the election.

"All the counties in the state of Texas combined will not see the amount of numbers of voters and the resources and the work that we have to make sure polling locations are adequate in this county," Hudspeth said.

If you've voted in a primary election here in Harris County, you know how it usually works.

A worker asks your party affiliation when you arrive. Then, you line up according to your party. Election workers and equipment are separated based on the party.

Harris County had multiple problems during the 2022 general election, including delayed results and paper shortages.

On Sept. 1, 2023, the state legislature ordered the county to get rid of its election administrator position and have the county clerk run the elections instead.

The new law also requires extra polling locations, which the clerk says the county doesn't have in place now.

"Going from 375 to 512 plus, we're looking at the impact of almost a general election in terms of services and resources," she said. "There is no amount of money we could put on this to get equipment in time. I do believe in the long term money is going to help us because we will need more equipment."

The Harris County Democratic party has agreed to combine equipment and workers in what's called a joint primary, but the Republicans have refused, claiming there is no shortage of resources.

"This is getting a little partisan, and we're going to have these conversations with the Republican party, but let's be really clear," Tom Ramsey, the only Republican on Harris County Commissioners Court, said. "Clerk Hudspeth inherited a mess. This didn't have anything to do with the Republican party."

"It says the parties have to agree, so here, the clerk has recommended, the Democratic Party has agreed, and the Republican Party has not agreed, so it's by law partisan," Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said.

The clerk is meeting with leaders from both parties on Wednesday. She said it's the last chance to make changes in time for the March primary.

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