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Harris County primary runoff off to a smooth start despite previous election issues

Issues with election counting in Harris County have led to some frustration, but some widespread issues of the past may be corrected during this primary runoff.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — The marathon election season continues in Texas and in Harris County. 

For the second time in less than two weeks, Texans are heading back to the polls to decide on a host of statewide and local elections.

Voters are deciding who should come out on top in primary runoff elections. However, issues with election counting in Harris County have led to some frustration, but some widespread issues of the past may be corrected during this primary runoff.

“So far it’s been a really busy day, we’re really pleased with the turnout,” Nadia Hakim, Deputy Director of Communication and Voter outreach for Harris County elections said. 

READ: Nearly 50 polls understaffed on Texas Primary Election Day, new data shows

Election issues for Harris County have moved to the forefront of some voters’ minds as they cast their runoff ballots.

“It seems like all the other large counties in Texas are not having the problems — they seem to continuously have with voting here,” Joe Reichek, an early voter said. 

However, Harris County officials say they’re working through the newer voting process adding, that what the county faced a couple of months back, where some voters were tripped up by two-page ballots, is less likely to happen in this primary run-off.

READ: Preps underway for May 24 runoff election

“A shorter ballot has really been helping, also we have seen multiple elections with these new machines in place so our election workers are becoming more familiar with them, our voters are becoming more familiar with them and honestly it’s just a better process,” Hakim said. 

Texas election code requires complete election results within 24 hours of voting, something Harris County, the size of Rhode Island for comparison, has struggled to do in the past.

“We have to recognize that the 24-hour deadline is in place for small elections and large elections there really is no distinction and it really does pull our employees our Judges everyone very thin,” Hakim said. 

But some voters aren't experiencing any major issues.

“No problems, no complications, no nothing, just go in, vote whoever you want, and go and get out, it’s that simple,” Edgar Elias said. 

Early voting is from now through May 20 with primary runoff election day on May 24.

Those voting by mail are reminded by officials to complete the identification fields to avoid the ballot being rejected. 

Hakim said for the May 7 election, the number of ballots flagged for rejection started to climb towards 15-17%, which was the same trend the mail-in ballot team saw for March 1. But instead of continuing upwards it ultimately ended at about 10% of mail ballots being rejected.

"For March 1 we saw about 19% rejected," Hakim said. 

Voters are urged to contact the Harris County election office with any questions regarding issues they may face at 713-755-6965.

Local election officials are barred by state law from soliciting mail-in ballots.

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