By Caden Pearson
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday called for an investigation into how Harris County runs elections, citing problems and delays including missing keys, insufficient paper ballots in Republican precincts, and staffing problems he said left voters frustrated and confused.
“I’m calling on the Secretary of State, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Texas Rangers to initiate investigations into allegations of improprieties in the way that the 2022 elections were conducted in Harris County,” Abbott said in a statement.
“The allegations of election improprieties in our state’s largest county may result from anything ranging from malfeasance to blatant criminal conduct. 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.”
The Harris County GOP on Monday announced a lawsuit against local election officials in a bid to expose what they say are systemic issues with how county officials have been running elections.
“We’re doing this in order to shed light on what has been happening, how Harris County actually runs their elections,” said Harris County GOP Chair Cindy Siegel at a press conference.
“What we’ve seen over the past year, instead of it being just a few incidents of breakdowns and how the process has been run, we’ve seen what’s turned out to be a systemic cancer in how Harris County actually runs its elections.”
Call for Investigation ‘Laughable’: Democrats
Harris County Democratic Party Chair Odus Evbagharu downplayed Abbott’s call for an investigation, saying it is “yet another example of the political theater we’ve come to expect from our state leader.”
“It’s almost laughable that Abbott has demanded this investigation since he actually sent a team to oversee the Harris County elections last week. Was Abbott’s team ineffective? Will Abbott be investigating himself?” Evbagharu said in a statement.
“Our biggest concern about this is that Abbott and other GOP state leaders are trying to criminalize election workers.
“These elections are run by volunteers who are civically engaged and actively participating in the political process, and under Abbott’s watch, election workers have been constantly under attack,” he said.
Harris County Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum, who has downplayed concerns about midterm voting issues, said the county is reviewing issues and claims made about the Nov. 8 election day.
“The Harris County Elections Administrator’s Office is fully committed to transparency regarding the processes and procedures implemented for the November 8, 2022, Midterm Elections,” Tatum said in a statement to The Epoch Times.
“As already established, Harris County has been selected to participate in the 2022 SOS Audit and has been in communication with the SOS Auditing team regarding this election. The office is currently completing vote tabulation of provisional ballots in reparation for the statutorily required manual count that must occur before canvassing.
“The last day to Canvas is November 22, 2022. The office is currently reviewing issues and claims made about Election Day and will include these findings in a post-elections report to be shared promptly with the Harris County Elections Commission and the County Commissioner Court.”
After a forensic audit identified numerous voting irregularities in Harris County in the 2020 election and 2022 March primary election, inspectors from the Texas Secretary of State and Attorney General’s Election Integrity Team were sent to Harris County to observe and monitor voting processes.
Harris County’s previous elections administrator, Isabel Longoria, was forced to resign after the March primary election after it was revealed that 10,000 ballots hadn’t been counted and after other election irregularities and problems were uncovered, including not counting all the votes within the timeframe established by law.
The Texas secretary of state’s office will audit the results of Harris County’s 2022 November midterm elections, along with three other Texas counties.