Elections

Harris County officials vow to sort out 2022 election day issues

Polling sites were scheduled to open at 7 a.m. but officials said four locations opened late.

Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
FILE: Harris County Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum announced to the media at the NRG Arena that voting will be extended an hour later to 8 p.m. on Tuesday night, Nov. 8, 2022. Tatum added that votes cast after 7 p.m. will be provisional and take longer to count.

Harris County Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum says his team will be working to sort out the issues that caused problems on election day.

Harris County experienced many issues from polling sites opening late, machine malfunctions, and even some polling sites running out of ballots. Wednesday morning, election workers were still counting emergency ballots at central counting at NRG Arena.

"We will assess our election operations from early voting through election night through today," he said at a Wednesday afternoon presser.

Polling sites were scheduled to open at 7 a.m. but officials said four locations opened late. BakerRipley House on Navigation opened almost 4.5 hours late due to what officials say was a misplaced key that was needed to access the voting machines.

"I understand there was a problem with accessing the equipment from the equipment cabby," Tatum said. "Then I'm told that there was a misplaced key [for] a judge’s box [it] wasn't delivered which then didn't allow that judge to access the equipment."

Tatum said he wasn't sure if the misplaced key accessed all the voting machines or just one particular machine. Once the key was delivered, the judge for that polling location did not have staff.

"Once we did get the key to him as I understand his clerks that were assigned to him – left him," he said.

Harris County had 782 polling locations opened but there's not an exact number on how many polling sites experienced problems and how many machines were down. Tatum said some judges did report to his team about machine problems at their polling sites.

"We saw that there were some scanner problems, the scanner is the device that actually takes an image of the ballot and records the ballot," he said. "We saw that there were some duo problems – the duo is the device where the voter actually makes their selections and prints their selections onto the ballot, we saw that there were some ballot jams."

Tatum said there were over 180 technicians in the field on election day and they were able to solve many of the problems. The elections team is working with their machine vendor to determine what caused the machines to malfunction.

As far as polling sites running out of ballot paper, Tatum said he's still trying to determine how that was possible.

"There wasn't a fumble," he said. "We started receiving calls for ballot paper at 7:30 am, So, for me I have to assess exactly what was going on at those polling places that they felt they needed paper – when the poll opened at 7:30."

Tatum didn't provide a time frame on how long it would take him to assess everything, but said his main priority right now is getting all of the ballots counted from election day.

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