Harris County election officials are still counting ballots Wednesday morning for the Tuesday Primary Election. Despite the Texas Secretary of State John B. Scott saying officials will not finish counting ballots by the deadline, Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria said she’s confident counting votes will be done.
“It’s going to take a couple of days to finish the entire process as we’ve always seen,” Longoria said. “I don’t have concerns about counting the election ballots for this election.”
In a press conference Wednesday morning, Harris County election officials said 500 of the 750 voting locations in the county have been reported.
For context, under Texas’ voting legislation Senate Bill 1, all votes are to be counted exactly 24 hours after the polls close, or by 7 p.m. on March 3. Moreover, larger counties like Harris, Dallas, and Tarrant used paper ballots in this election rather than electronic voting machines — a detail in SB 1 all counties will have to follow for elections by 2026.
Nevertheless, Harris County Voting Director Beth Stevens said the paper ballot system slows down the process for both voters and election workers.
“We’re working with paper here, what we know is we have hundreds of thousands of ballots processed accurately and securely here in our central counting station and we’re working with 2.5 million registered voters,” Stevens said.
In addition to voter registration identification mishaps, and mail-in ballot rejections, Harris County election officials also said damaged ballots have become an issue in the counting process. According to Stevens, damaged ballots have to be duplicated before being scanned by electronic tabulators and counted in at the central polling location. Officials said this could take some time.
“There was a negative attempt to make Harris County look bad in this moment and it’s completely unnecessary because we are processing as appropriate,” Stevens said. “Voters can be sure that paper ballots and electronic media that go with that is the most safe and secure ballot in the country.”
“We are closely monitoring the progress of ballot tabulation in Harris County to ensure all relevant election laws are followed and that legitimately cast ballots by Harris County voters in both the Democratic and Republican Primary Elections are counted accurately and timely,” Secretary of State Scott said in a statement Tuesday night.
All this comes as the Texas Democratic Attorney General runoff race seems too close to call between Civil Rights Attorney Lee Merritt and former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski. According to DecisionDesk HQ, ACLU attorney Rochelle Garza holds the lead at 43 percent of the vote, Jaworski has 19.58 percent of the vote, and Merritt is closely behind with 19.42 percent.
This is a developing story.