HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Harris County selected a new elections administrator on Tuesday.
The Harris County Election Commission unanimously voted for Clifford Tatum to take over the vacant role upon him becoming a Texas resident and registered voter in Texas.
Tatum's appointment to elections administrator is also contingent upon him passing a background check and confirming his eligibility, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said.
He will be officially appointed in a later meeting and set to start his new role next month, which is less than three months before early voting is set to begin.
"I am proud of this selection and am hopeful and have confidence in Mr. Tatum," said Hidalgo. "He understands as well in this hyper-politicized climate when folks have learned it serves them politically to make false claims of election fraud, it's more important than ever to make sure that there are no questions raised about the election."
The decision to pick Tatum was made by both Republicans and Democrats on the election commission.
"I think he's going to come here and hit the ground running," said Harris County Democratic Party Chairman Odus Evbagharu. "We have absolute confidence he'll get the job done."
Who is Clifford Tatum?
Tatum currently serves as Chief Information Security Officer for the District of Columbia Board of Elections.
He is an alumnus of Thomas M. Cooley Law School and a graduate from Guilford College Greensboro, North Carolina with a degree in Administration of Justice, according to the U.S. Election Assitance Commission's website.
Tatum once resided in Georgia where he served as Deputy Solicitor General for the City of East Point. He previously served as the Interim Director of the Georgia State Elections Division and as an Assistant Director of Legal Affairs for the Georgia Secretary of State.
What happened to the previous Harris County Elections Administrator?
Former Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria submitted her resignation in March after a series of issues and mounting complaints that arose during the 2022 primary elections.
The issues and complaints included:
- Thousands of mail-in ballots were not initially entered into the Election Night count.
- Longer-than-usual vote-counting times
- Staffing challenges
- Equipment issues
In her resignation, Longoria took the blame for not meeting her own expectations but also said the implementation of SB1 had caused many voting problems not just in Harris County, but in several counties across the state.
"Additionally - the restrictive voting laws of SB1 are a direct result of Harris County - the largest and most diverse in the State - broadening access to voters through innovative practices like drive-thru voting, 24-hour voting, and expanding access to mail-in ballots.
And the issues our county faced this election are not unique - Counties across the state faced similar problems with staffing and with implementing new SB1 requirements.
However - the attacks on Harris County continue beyond the passage of SB1. These lawsuits and talking points we see now were written the moment this office was formed, and today serve as a distraction to conversations about how to improve the process, invest resources and make our elections better," part of her resignation statement read.