State Senator Paul Bettencourt, a Houston Republican, expects crimes to be uncovered in an ongoing investigation into Harris County’s elections.
“Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy,” Ogg said in a statement. “When we get credible complaints of election irregularities, we are statutorily required to investigate.”
Governor Greg Abbott first called for an investigation into the “widespread problems” of Harris County elections in a statement released on November 14.
“The allegations of election improprieties in our state’s largest county may result from anything ranging from malfeasance to blatant criminal conduct,” he said.
“Voters in Harris County deserve to know what happened. Integrity in the election process is essential,” the governor asserted. “To achieve that standard, a thorough investigation is warranted.”
The Harris County Republican Party filed a lawsuit alleging the county and elections administrator, Clifford Tatum, violated the Texas elections code by mishandling damaged ballots and failing to supply enough ballot paper at 23 polling locations.
Bettencourt claimed the shortages prevented some people from being able to vote.
“You’ve got 23 polls that seemed to have run out of paper or weren’t given enough to start with, and they weren’t followed up with to get more ballots to those polls in a timely manner,” said Bettencourt.
He continued, “One precinct judge had to dismiss 150 people from line. Think about that. You’ve got a line that’s 150 deep, and you’re out of paper, and you have to dismiss them.”
“It’s abominable that a government puts on an election, and then they don’t give voters ballots … That’s really what happened here,” Bettencourt said on the program, Texas: The Issue Is.
“Between that, and machine difficulties, and the fact that election judges are just crying out for more ballots, it really is voter suppression because people went to the polls, and they couldn’t vote.”
Bettencourt continued, “If you don’t have enough election supplies, that’s a Class C misdemeanor. And the warehouse was full of paper, full of ballot paper.”
He added, “If you don’t give it out — willingly or effectively — if you deny somebody that election paper, it’s a Class B misdemeanor.”
“These are real voter irregularities that have to be researched and investigated because they could have made the difference in the election,” he said. “And I’ve never seen the public so outraged.”
On Inside Texas Politics, Bettencourt was asked whether he was supporting Donald Trump’s recently announced bid for the 2024 presidential election, and he answered, “Right now, my focus is on this because I want to make sure that everybody understands that this effort is not about being an election denier.”
“And what this means is that we’ve got to have immediate action,” he continued. “We’ve got to have an investigation. So, I’m not going to be involved in any other political activity until we get to the bottom of this mess in Harris County.”
The communications director for the Harris County elections administration denied requests for comment as the investigation is ongoing.