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Harris County Elections releases report on November election

Immediately after the complaints started rolling in, Clifford Tatum, the county's new elections administrator, said he would be investigating.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Nearly two months after the November general election, a report has been released hoping to shed some light on what may or may not have gone wrong.

Immediately after the November election, complaints of issues at polling locations poured into the election's office. There was even a lawsuit filed by the Harris County Republican Party alleging paper shortages at polling places disenfranchised voters on Election Day. 

Immediately after the complaints, Clifford Tatum, the county's new elections administrator, said he would be investigating. 

"I have to take that to heart and determine exactly, what was that, what caused that, and then ensure that that doesn't happen again," Tatum said in November.

Now, nearly two months later, that investigation has been released, but it doesn't have a lot of answers.

In Tatum's report, he said they were able to speak with most election judges but many provided confusing answers. Some even declined to speak.

"The EAO staff was unable to gather information from all PJs and AJs because several judges advised EAO staff that they were instructed not to talk with the EAO staff about Election Day operations, including ballot paper due to the District Attorney’s announced criminal investigation, litigation brought by the Harris County Republican Party, and pending election contests," the report read. “Although EOA staff was able to speak to most of the PJs and AJs, many of them provided confusing answers and some declined to speak after reportedly being advised not to do so by the Harris County Republican Party.”

Harris County Republican Party Chair Cindy Siegel denied that the party advised election judges to not speak to elections staff, according to the Texas Tribune

The report said their call logs reflect that the help desk received calls from 46 voting centers requesting additional paper on Election Day, but the report did not indicate the centers ran out of paper and had turned voters away as a result. 

The report also said the election office's analysis is largely inconclusive due to the fact that several judges from the same voting centers gave conflicting reports and that many responses did not explain whether the centers had to turn voters away. 

The report details other issues, including locations opening late and 170 voting centers inside school buildings that were not able to set up according to plan because the school districts were closed the day before to celebrate the Astros World Series Parade. 

The election's office said it will continue reviewing the processes and will implement systems to ensure this type of challenge is never encountered in the future.

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