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Harris County DA Kim Ogg launches investigation into election issues

" ... We’ve called for the assistance of the Texas Rangers. The results of their investigation will be turned over to a Harris County grand jury," Ogg said.

HOUSTON — Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Wednesday that her office will conduct an investigation into election issues that frustrated many voters. 

"Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy. When we get credible complaints of election irregularities, we are statutorily required to investigate," Ogg said in a statement. "That’s why we’ve called for the assistance of the Texas Rangers. The results of their investigation will be turned over to a Harris County grand jury."

Editor's note: The video above originally aired on Nov. 10

Ogg said they conducted a similar investigation following the 2020 election that led to charges against three Democrats and two Republicans. 

"We do this regardless of the party affiliation of the complainants. It is my duty as the elected District Attorney to follow the evidence and follow the law, and I will," the DA said.

Gov. Abbott calls for investigation

 Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday called for an investigation into what he called “widespread problems with Harris County's elections Tuesday.”

RELATED: Gov. Greg Abbott calls for investigation into Harris County elections after 'widespread problems'

RELATED: Harris County Democratic party disputes GOP claim that ballot paper shortage at polls was intentional

His office said in a release that voters in Harris County were frustrated by confusion and delays including missing keys, insufficient paper ballots in Republican precincts, staffing problems, and more.

"I'm calling on the Secretary of State, the Attorney General's Office, and the Texas Rangers to initiate investigations into allegations of improprieties in the way that the 2022 elections were conducted in Harris County," Abbott said. "The allegations of election improprieties in our state's largest county may result from anything ranging from malfeasance to blatant criminal conduct. Voters in Harris County deserve to know what happened. Integrity in the election process is essential. To achieve that standard, a thorough investigation is warranted."

KHOU 11 election law analyst Cris Feldman said this will become a new normal for Harris County because "state leadership does not like the leadership in Harris County."

“The law that was passed, allowing for audits, allows for the state to come in and get under the hood and poke around and it’s being used as a way to target Harris County," Feldman said. "There’s a historical antagonism between the state and state leadership, and Harris County, and this is par for the course.”

Election lawsuit

Shortly after Abbott's announcement, the Harris County GOP announced it had filed a lawsuit against elections administrator Clifford Tatum and Harris County.

RELATED: 'Still counting votes' | Harris County elections administrator responds to calls for investigation

Party leaders said they found so many irregularities that they felt the need to file the 20-page lawsuit. They're wondering if the issues were intentional and cited several issues, including not enough voting paper being at certain locations and voters being turned away.

The attorney representing the Harris County GOP said it potentially opens the door for those who are candidates on the ballot and who lost by a narrow margin to request for a new vote to take place.

Tatum's response

At commissioner's court Tuesday, Tatum said system replacements and operations should be revamped as well as the communication systems.

“As with every election, start-up is more of a challenge, but in all, I think the Election Day workers did a very good job," Tatum said. "There are a few issues that have been identified. I will brief you on some of those today, but a full assessment is in order. We have started that assessment but I’d like to remind you and the public we’re still counting votes.” 

The issues weren't limited to traditionally Republican districts. Voters in traditionally Democratic areas, including Sunnyside and Baker Ripley, were turned away because of voting machine problems.

Harris County Democrats called the investigation a political ploy. 

Harris County Democrats issued the following statement:

Gov. Greg Abbott’s call on Monday for an investigation of Harris County’s elections is “yet another example of the political theater we’ve come to expect from our state leader,” Harris County Democratic Party Chair Odus Evbagharu said.

“We all know Abbott’s concern is not really the 2022 Midterm Election in Harris County. He’s got his focus on what’s next for him, and he’s hoping simply calling for an investigation will play out in his favor politically.

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