Elections

Harris County officials say they’re ready for early voting after state audit found ‘widespread equipment failures’ during 2022 general election

The Texas Secretary of State’s office published a preliminary report this week analyzing widespread failures during Harris County’s 2022 general election.

Harris County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth disusing the upcoming election during a press conference on Oct. 20, 2023.
Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
Harris County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth disusing the upcoming election during a press conference on Oct. 20, 2023.

Harris County officials say they’re prepared to minimize potential issues during this year’s election season after a state audit found several administrative failures during the county’s general election last year.

During a press conference on Friday, Harris County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth said her department has been working closely with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office to minimize the risk of any problems.

According to Hudspeth, the county’s 68 early voting centers and 701 Election Day voting centers will be fully staffed with tech support in case of emergencies. Additionally, Hudspeth said they’ve bolstered the number of training sessions for poll workers from 70 to more than 120 sessions.

“There is no such thing as a flawless election,” Hudspeth said. “If there are things that come up, which they will…we will be able to mitigate them and address them in real time.”

This comes after the Texas Secretary of State's office published a preliminary report on Thursday analyzing multiple failures during Harris County’s 2022 general election. The report maintained that the county failed to provide enough paper ballots at several voting centers and found “widespread equipment failures” and inconsistencies in the number of registered voters reported to the state.

The report recommended Harris County officials “conduct a comprehensive review of their training program” and “routinely conduct post-election audits” in an effort to “measure the effectiveness of the county training program related to the administration of elections.”

Former Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum acknowledged the paper shortages and delayed openings on Election Day last year and said those issues would be addressed once counting was complete.

However, in response the widespread issues within Harris County, state officials earlier this year passed Senate Bill 1750, which abolished the Harris County elections administrator’s position, handing responsibility for overseeing elections to the elected county clerk. The law went into effective last month.

During Friday’s press conference, Hudspeth acknowledged that her team has only had a few weeks to prepare for early voting, but she said they’ve hit the ground running. Hudspeth previously worked on elections for several years as an employee of the county clerk’s office before the county created the appointed position of elections administrator in 2020.

“It’s not my first rodeo, so it was like getting on the old dusty bike that hadn’t been on for three years, we all ended up riding it again,” Hudspeth said. “So it has been fast and hard and busy, but it’s not anything this county can’t handle.”

Early voting begins Monday and runs through Nov. 3rd. Election Day is Nov. 7th.

Read the preliminary report from Texas Secretary of State's office below: