Investigators Find Election Ballot Paper Shortage Far Bigger Than Estimated: 'May Necessitate New Elections'
A new report indicates that a shortage of paper at multiple Harris County polling places on Election Day was more severe than initially indicated.
According to KHOU-TV, 121 polling places did not initially receive enough paper to cover the voter turnout at their polling places.
The county’s Elections Administration Office had previously estimated the number as being between 46 and 68 polling places.
The county’s post-election review document admitted that its investigation “has not yet revealed how many of these VCs had to turn voters away due to a paper shortage,” using the abbreviation VC for “voting center.”
Gov. Greg Abbott underscored the severity of the finding on Twitter.
“Harris Co. election ballot paper shortage far bigger than initially estimated. It’s so big it may have altered the outcome of elections. It may necessitate new elections. It WILL necessitate new LAWS that prevent Harris Co. from ever doing this again,” he tweeted.
Harris Co. election ballot paper shortage far bigger than initially estimated.
It’s so big it may have altered the outcome of elections.
It may necessitate new elections.
It WILL necessitate new LAWS that prevent Harris Co. from ever doing this again.https://t.co/Bc3YE3ix5E
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) February 1, 2023
KHOU found that the county allocated enough paper for 600 voters at multiple polling places. In fact, a review of its equipment projects in the county’s own post-election review showed that the county estimated a turnout of 600 voters at the vast majority of its polling places.
Reality did not conform to the projections, with some polling places recording as many as 400 more votes than projected.
A county representative said history was used as a guide to determine how much paper was allocated where.
However, KHOU found that 52 polling places received less paper in 2022 than their 2018 turnout. Three centers that had more than 1,000 ballots cast at each location were each allotted enough paper for 600 voters last fall.
Remember election day when some Harris County voting centers ran out of ballot paper? @HarrisVotes could never determine the extent of the shortage. So we did our own analysis and found 121 locations did not get enough paper when the polls opened. More at 6 @KHOU pic.twitter.com/O4MnQzTquT
— Jeremy Rogalski (@JRogalskiKHOU) January 30, 2023
“It was worse than what we even knew. And there’s no excuse, in my mind,” County Republican Chair Cindy Siegel said.
“I mean, it’s mismanagement at best. We as Harris County voters deserve better,” she said.
The county’s post-election review document noted that across the county, 160 technicians were dispatched to address potential issues that might erupt.
The report said that the county’s “call logs reflect that the Help Desk received calls from 46 VCs (5.9%) requesting additional paper on Election Day. This does not indicate that these VCs ran out of paper and had turn voters away as a result – only that they required additional paper at some point on Election Day.”
The report said the county’s analysis of the problem was “largely inconclusive” because of “conflicting reports on whether the VC actually ran out of paper, and that many responses did not explain whether the VCs had to turn voters away.”
The county report said that 61 sites received additional paper deliveries on Election Day, but said some officials contacted after the election said the sites for which they were responsible never ran out of paper.
“I’ve never heard anything so basic as running [out] of ballots,” election Presiding Judge Terry Wheeler said, according to KHOU.
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