Harris County continuing to examine Election Day issues during 2022 midterms

From delayed openings to reports of machines malfunctioning and paper shortages, Harris County Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum said officials will be assessing all those issues once they're done tabulating election results. 

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Tatum provided a news update around 3 p.m. Wednesday. 

Harris County has approximately 1,200 to 1,400 mail-in ballots left to process, along with an unknown number of emergency slot ballots and provisional ballots to count as well. 

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Tatum did not have an exact number of provisional ballots cast during the extended hour of voting but says he doesn’t believe the number is significant enough to swing any result. 

More than 1 million voters in Harris County cast their ballots at 782 locations Tuesday. Several locations experienced issues including delayed openings,  machines malfunctioning, and paper shortages. 

"We started receiving calls for ballot paper at 7:30 a.m.," Tatum said. "So, for me, I have to assess exactly what was going on at those polling places that they felt they needed paper when the polls opened 30 minutes before. So, I’m not sure what we were seeing, so I need to really assess what’s going on." 

When pressed why asking for more supplies was not considered a simple request, Tatum responded with this. 

"Because we have a finite amount of resources related to any technical issues that may occur at a polling place. I have a polling location that we know didn’t open on time because it had some sort of technical issues. If I'm sending a technician somewhere to deliver the paper, that may be needed later in the day, then that technician isn’t on-site, managing that machine that’s going down. So, you have to prioritize the technical issues that you have in order to get every polling location up and running. So, the request for paper is, I'm not diminishing that request for paper, but there’s a priority," Tatum said.  


On Tuesday, a judge first granted voting hours to be extended an extra hour until 8 PM to accommodate the issues at the polls. The Texas Supreme Court later intervened and reversed the lower court’s order, saying the provisional ballots cast during that extended hour would not be counted towards Tuesday’s tally.

Officials later decided that the extended casted votes should be separated and not counted for now.

Tatum said Wednesday, Harris County is awaiting word from the county attorney on what’s going to happen with the votes cast during the extended hour on election night.