Texas election officials have uncovered over 10,000 uncounted mail-in ballots in Texas’ most populous county over the weekend.
Republicans are suing and Democrats want a full review after Harris County missed deadlines to have its votes tallied and failed to count 10,000 ballots in its initial returns.
Like many other Texas counties, Harris recently switched to new voting machines meant to leave a paper trail. After making their selections on an electronic device, voters feed a printed version of their ballot into a scanner to cast their vote. The ballot is so lengthy in Harris that it requires two printed ballots per voter.
But a number of voters faced scanning issues while using the new machines, requiring election workers at the county’s headquarters to review more than 1,500 ballots to ensure they were properly counted. The process proved slow going as county officials also processed results from hundreds of polling locations.
Harris County faced a number of complications reported for the March 1 primary. Delays caused by 1,600 damaged ballot sheets, two voting locations reporting minor technical difficulties with their machines, and a shortage of election workers all added to the already stressful primary season. Texas Tribune
Under both Republican and Democratic administrations, Harris County elections have long been known for slow reporting of election results. More populous than 26 states, the county is Texas’ biggest and typically has the most votes to process. Voting materials, including ballot boxes, must also be transported across the county’s nearly 2,000 square miles back to its election headquarters.
According to reports by The Washington Examiner:
Two close Democratic primary races, one for a state House seat and another for Texas attorney general, hang in the balance. The ballots, 6,000 for Democrats and 4,000 for Republicans, were scanned into the tabulation computer, but they were not added to the unofficial final results, Harris County officials announced Sunday.
“While we understand the seriousness of this error, the ability to identify and correct this issue is a result of a lengthy and rigorous process and is a positive example of the process ultimately working as it should,” the county, which includes most of Houston, said in a statement obtained by the Texas Tribune.
Candis Houston, who is trailing incumbent state Rep. Harold Dutton Jr. by 136 votes in the Democratic primary, has already conceded the race. Dutton was baffled that so many ballots had gone missing without anyone noticing.
“It seems to me that somebody should’ve known that 10,000 ballots were missing,” Dutton said. “If 10,000 ballots were missing and nobody knew that, God help us.”