Texas Governor Greg Abbott, fresh off his thrashing of Beto O’Rourke in the gubernatorial election, is demanding an investigation into voting irregularities that occurred on November 8 as voters tried to cast their ballots in the midterms. The issues were reported in Harris County, which experienced delayed openings, paper shortages (seriously?), missing keys, and understaffing, causing some voters to wait for hours.
Abbott said the problems might even have been caused by nefarious actions:
Abbott urged the Texas secretary of state, the attorney general’s office, and the Texas Rangers to investigate what happened. This isn’t the first time the county has been beset by improprieties; in March nearly 10,000 ballots were misplaced in the primaries. (They were eventually found.)
Here’s what voters were facing that day, according to a local journalist:
The troubles also caused a legal brouhaha, with progressive advocates convincing a local judge to allow an extra hour of voting. The matter is still not fully settled, because the attorney general appealed, and, as the Houston Chronicle reports, “the Texas Supreme Court ordered the county to segregate votes cast during the extension while it reviews the judge’s action.”
Other than that, things went swimmingly. Secretary of State John Scott will be looking into the matter, saying in an email:
We will be collecting even more information to ultimately provide the public with greater clarity on the root causes of the issues witnessed in Harris County on Election Day.
Houston Republican Sen. Paul Bettencourt meanwhile is also on board, asserting in a news release that the problems amounted to “voter suppression”:
This is not about being an election denier, it is about actual reported voter irregularities. This is about voter suppression because it’s simply unbelievable that in the 21st century citizens show up to vote and can’t cast their ballots … the cause of this must be determined.
He also took to Twitter to say that November 8 was “the WORST Election Day ever by a major county elections department that I’ve seen in my LIFE!”
It remains to be seen whether criminal activity will be uncovered, or if this will turn out to be simply a matter of gross incompetence.
Bettencourt is right, though: you don’t have to be an election denier to say that running a vote this way is simply unacceptable.