Harris County election officials said around 10,000 ballots initially went uncounted in the 2022 midterm primaries. The ballots, which funneled in from cities such as Houston, were accounted for but not added to the official tallies.
The missed ballots do not mean that anyone’s vote was entered incorrectly or manipulated, and the mishaps were reportedly corrected before Tuesday’s final ballot count.
In a statement from the Harris County Election Office, officials said that 6,000 of the uncounted ballots were for the Democratic primary, and 4,000 were for the Republican primary.
Harris County blamed an error within the tabulation system, though did not specify whether it was human or machine error that was at fault for the “oversight.”
The statement reads, “While the votes were scanned into our tabulation computer, they were not transferred and counted as a part of the unofficial final results as they should have been.”
The error occurred between 1 a.m and 4 a.m during a count by the Central Count Committee.
“We are committed to full transparency and will continue to provide updates as they are available,” said Harris County Election Administrator Isabel Longoria.
The error in tabulation prompted Republican officials to question the integrity of the ballot counting.
Harris County Republican Party Chair Cindy Siegel told KHOU, “Unfortunately, this is another example of the serious mismanagement of Lina Hidalgo’s unqualified elections administrator. Isabel Longoria owes all Harris County voters an explanation.”
Siegel promoted the importance of voters’ ability to be confident in their ballots counting “regardless of party.” She then went on to call Longoria “the least qualified person for the job.”
“So, what we hope to come out of this is where either Isabel Longoria and her management team resign, or they’re fired, but more importantly, the courts actually step in and provide independent oversight over the election process,” said Siegel.
Nonetheless, Longoria accepted responsibility for the mishap and announced that she would resign effective July 1.
“Ultimately, the buck stops with me. I didn’t meet my own standards,” Longoria said at a county commissioner’s meeting.
“During this transition, now the real opportunity has come to have a conversation to solve the problems in future elections and further bolster the elections administration,” Longoria said.
Longoria placed some of the blame on SB 1, claiming the bill was created as “a direct result” of Harris County’s innovative processes during the 2020 General Election, some of which included 24-hour and drive-thru voting.
However, she commented, “To declare failure before the process is completed is a disservice to voters, and it assumes that anything that occurs after Election night doesn’t matter. It is the most critical part of the Election process.”
Democratic officials have claimed that the new Texas voting law could be causing unnecessary complications within the system.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo wrote that Republican leaders “lost authority” on local elections after the passing of SB 1.
“It is not acceptable the way that these elections took place, particularly, the criticisms and the lack of support that the election judges felt,” she said. However, she called Longoria’s resignation “appropriate.”
Though the issue was said to be relatively benign, many agree that the voting systems in Texas need to be reviewed. Harris County will be partnering with the Secretary of State’s Office to investigate the missed ballots and ensure it does not occur again.
“Voters should know the Harris County Democratic Party is actively monitoring the situation,” said Democratic Chairman Odus Evbagharu.
Republican leaders in Harris County filed a lawsuit against Longoria as they seek answers.