Nov 28, 2022 - News

Election expert breaks down Harris County probe

A voter dons an "I Voted" sticker on her blue and green top with gold lace

Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A criminal investigation into Harris County's election earlier this month will likely uncover a series of issues — but won't uncover any intentional wrongdoing, according to Rice University elections expert Bob Stein.

Catch up quick: State officials and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg are looking into what went wrong on Election Day, including late poll openings and the scarcity of paper for voters to cast their ballots.

  • Ogg opened her investigation Nov. 14 after a request from the Texas secretary of state's office.
  • The scope of the investigation will look into "alleged irregularities" and potential criminal conduct, according to an email obtained by the Washington Post.

Yes, but: Stein says the results of the local races should remain unchanged.

  • "If it's a fair and objective evaluation, they will uncover the same thing I've uncovered: That only on Election Day do we have problems, and a diagnosis of that problem has probably two, two-and-a-half sources," Stein tells Axios.

Between the lines: Stein theorizes that Election Day issues could likely have been avoided if the county operated fewer, more centralized polling locations and equipped workers with better training.

  • Plus, a change in election law in 2019 revoked the county's ability to tabulate ballots remotely, meaning election workers spend hours waiting to input their precinct's results at NRG Arena.
  • "It doesn't take rocket science," Stein says. "It takes them about an hour to pack up everything, take their thumb drives and paper …. Shockingly, it takes till midnight or the next day until they can tabulate all the votes just from Election Day."

The bottom line: "They're going to find nothing," Stein says. "Or they might find something they think they found. But the bottom line is, this is an easily solved problem and one I think Commissioners Court, through them the Elections [Administrator's Office], is going to have to right."


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