Preliminary findings from an audit of Harris County’s November 2022 election shows “multiple failures,” according to Secretary of State Jane Nelson.
Harris County, the largest county in the state, was one of four counties chosen at random to be audited by the secretary of state’s office under a new state law passed in 2021.
“Harris County clearly had multiple failures conducting the election and violated election law for estimating needed ballot paper. Mistakes like these led to a poorly executed election which left many Harris County residents frustrated and may have prevented them from voting.” said Nelson. “It is important to talk about these issues now in order to address them before the 2024 election cycle.”
According the SOS, the preliminary report reveals problems with voter registration data, failure to provide necessary supplies to polling places, equipment issues, and incomplete paperwork. At least 38 polling locations had no voter check-ins for an hour or more.
The report found the following major issues with the election:
- Harris County’s voter registration system included more than 9,000 more voters than were reported to the statewide voter registration system.
- Almost 3,600 mail ballots were sent to voters but not reported to the state.
- The method for determining distribution for ballot paper did not comply with state law and led to a disruption in the voting process and inadequate supplies at some polling locations.
- Harris County failed to adequately train election judges and clerks resulting in incomplete paperwork and problems with voting system equipment.
Since then, the legislature has passed legislation eliminating the county’s Elections Administrator and putting the responsibility back in the hands of the county clerk and tax assessor-collector.
“I’m thankful for the cooperation we are seeing from the current election offices,” said Nelson. “A repeat of these problems is unacceptable for Harris County voters.”
Christine Welborn, the executive director of Advancing Integrity, said the results were unfortunately not surprising.
“Complaints about Harris County elections have proliferated since its move to countywide polling and politicization of election administration. We need the legislature to act urgently to restore trust in elections,” said Welborn.