Recent preliminary findings from a state audit of November 2022 Harris County, Texas, election are highlighting the vital importance of upholding the integrity of our democratic processes.
Texas Secretary of State Jane Nelson released preliminary findings of the audit stating, “Harris County clearly had multiple failures conducting the election and violated election law for estimating needed ballot paper,” according to KPRC-TV.
“Mistakes like these led to a poorly executed election which left many Harris County residents frustrated and may have prevented them from voting. It is important to talk about these issues now in order to address them before the 2024 election cycle,” Nelson added.
Nelson’s statement highlighted a range of issues uncovered during the audit. These problems include discrepancies in voter registration data, a failure to deliver essential supplies to polling locations, equipment malfunctions, and incomplete paperwork.
According to a post by Texas state Senator Paul Bettencourt on X, “County Government’s [election audit] left 3 million sheets of ballot paper in the warehouse and didn’t get enough ballot paper to the polls for voters to vote.”
The Texas @TXsecofstate election audit recognizes the obvious HUGE problems with Harris County’s November elections that lead to legislative changes, my SB 1750 which eliminated the Elections Administrator position and returned elections back to the elected County Clerk and Tax… pic.twitter.com/4bpsbKG8PT
— Team Bettencourt (@TeamBettencourt) October 19, 2023
At least 38 polling sites also experienced an absence of voter check-ins for an hour or more, according to Nelson’s report.
The findings showed over 9,000 more voters than reported in the statewide voter registration system. Additionally, the audit disclosed that almost 3,600 mail-in ballots were sent to voters but were not properly reported to the state authorities.
Procedures for the provision of ballot paper were also not properly followed and judges and clerks were improperly trained, leading to paperwork being improperly filled and equipment issues.
BREAKING: The Texas Secretary of State has released bombshell findings from the 2022 midterm election audit of Harris County
The report reveals Harris County had 9,000 more voters in the registration system than what was reported to the state.
Almost 3,600 mail-in ballots were… pic.twitter.com/7OaPQv96Lm
— George (@BehizyTweets) October 19, 2023
According to The Texas Tribune, the mishandling of the 2022 election in Harris County led to legislative changes, including the dissolution of the elections administration office, with election duties now split between the county clerk and tax assessor.
Harris County is suing the state to reverse this law. Texas Secretary of State Jane Nelson said that a repetition of such issues within the system is “unacceptable.”
Elections are the cornerstone of any democratic society. They serve as the mechanism through which the will of the people is expressed, leaders are chosen, and accountability is ensured. To maintain the health of our democracy, we must be able to trust in the integrity of this process. This is where election audits come into play.
Just as businesses undergo audits to ensure that financial records are accurate and transparent, elections should be audited to verify that the results accurately reflect the will of the voters.
Trust in the system relies on scrutinizing the process and having confidence in its fairness.
Harris County was one of just four randomly selected counties audited in accordance with a law passed in 2021, according to KPRC-TV.
How many other counties across the nation may have similar issues that have yet to come to light?
The number of issues uncovered in a limited audit of a handful of counties in one state demonstrates the importance of comprehensive and regular election audits. It would be naive to think that the issues uncovered in Harris County are isolated or especially rare
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Transparency, accuracy, and integrity in elections are universal principles that should be upheld across the board.
The lessons learned from these audits should encourage a broader conversation about the need for a systematic approach to election integrity, one that ensures that every county, regardless of its size or political landscape, is held to the same high standards.
States need to initiate comprehensive audits that can foster trust in our democratic processes at a national level.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.