Texas Harris County Election Day Procedures Challenge
Harris County Republican Party v. Tatum
Lawsuit filed by the Harris County Republican Party and its chairwoman against Harris County and its election administrator challenging “multiple instances of ill-advised and illegal alterations of election procedures which must be stopped immediately.” The plaintiffs allege that the Harris County election administrator “allowed the [Nov. 8] election to be run in such a manner that it illegally disenfranchised tens of thousands of registered voters from casting their votes for the candidates of their choice.” First, the plaintiffs claim that the county election administrator violated Texas law by dealing with a ballot scanner issue in a manner that “resulted in double votes” being cast. Specifically, the complaint states that the administrator had voters cast a second ballot if one of the pages on their initial ballot was not properly scanned. The plaintiffs contend that because the election administrator deviated from the usual procedure for managing ballots that are not properly scanned, it will be “impossible for the Texas Secretary of State’s office to conduct a post-election audit, which [it] has already announced it intends to do.” They also argue that candidates who are considering a recount “will be unable to demonstrate if a legal vote was wrongfully discarded and/or an illegal vote was wrongfully included.”
Second, the plaintiffs claim that the defendant illegally issued new ballots to voters “who experienced smudges or other legibility problems” when scanning their ballots, thus creating the same “double votes” issue alleged in the aforementioned example. Next, the plaintiffs claim that the defendants’ failure to supply adequate paper to polling places caused “thousands of voters to be turned away from the polls.” Additionally, they assert that permitting polling places to remain open for an extra hour on Election Day as permitted by a court order caused “more problems to occur.” For instance, they argue that during this hour-long extension, “some polling locations did not require voting to be provisional, and simply allowed these votes to be cast and counted and entered [into] election day totals.” Finally, the plaintiffs assert that the defendants “allow[ed] for Harris County personnel to pick up the election results from the polling locations on Election Day in direct contravention to the Texas Election Code.” The plaintiffs ask the court to prohibit the defendants from continuing to violate Texas law and to declare the defendants’ conduct during the Nov. 8 election illegal to the extent that it “totally disenfranchised and/or diluted” thousands of votes.