Abbott is asking the Secretary of State’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office and the Texas Rangers to investigate Harris County’s elections office in “allegations of improprieties” in how Tuesday’s elections were handled.
The county dealt with several issues during the day, including running out of paper ballots at some polling places, forcing some voters to go to other polling locations in the county to vote. Some polling places didn’t open on time due to staffing issues and
“The allegations of election improprieties in our state’s largest county may result from anything ranging from malfeasance to blatant criminal conduct,” Abbott said in a statement. “Voters in Harris County deserve to know what happened. Integrity in the election process is essential. To achieve that standard, a thorough investigation is warranted.”
Also, the Harris County Republican Party is suing the Harris County elections administrator over problems on Election Day.
The party filed a civil suit alleging “countless” people who tried to vote couldn’t due to paper shortages.
Harris County’s election administrator Clifford Tatum denies the allegations, saying that Harris County is “committed to transparency.”
Tatum said his office will participate in an audit conducted by the Texas Secretary of State’s Office and will share a post-elections report with the Harris County Commissioner’s Court.
Harris County Democratic Party chair Odus Evbagharu called Abbott’s announcement of an investigation ““yet another example of the political theater we’ve come to expect from our state leader.”
The Texas Civil Rights Project said Abbott’s announcement was what they were worried about when they called for the Department of Justice to send federal election monitors to Harris County for Tuesday’s elections.
“After the Secretary of State singled out Harris County before the election, the Governor now calls for an investigation of that county while the county finalizes election results – even though voters in other counties across the state experienced many of the same issues,” TCRP’s voting rights program director Hani Mirza said in a statement.
“Launching a criminal investigation of election issues would be an especially clear and alarming escalation of the State’s campaign against the voters of Harris County – the most diverse county in Texas. The State has proven time and time again that it is a bad-faith actor when it comes to protecting voters. The Governor should rescind his self-interested call for investigations and allow election officials to do their jobs and finalize the election results.”