The Texas Secretary of State’s Office informed officials in the state’s most populous county in a letter Tuesday that it will send inspectors to observe the vote counting in November’s election.
In a letter to Harris County election administrator Clifford Tatum, the director of the Secretary of State’s forensic audit department, Chad Ennis, wrote that an audit of the county, home of Houston and leaning Democratic, had “serious violations of proper election found it”. records management” in the handling of mobile ballot boxes in the November 2020 general election. The letter arrived in the state less than a week before the start of early voting.
Ennis said preliminary findings in the Secretary of State’s audit “include at least 14 locations where custody documentation is lacking at best and lacking at worst.”
In light of those findings, Ennis wrote that the Secretary of State will provide “a contingent of inspectors” to the province to “perform randomized checks on election records” and “observe the handling and counting of ballots and electronic media.” .
The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has also agreed to send a task force to Harris County that “will be available at all times during the election period to promptly respond to legal issues identified by the Secretary of State, inspectors, pollsters, or voters,” Ennis wrote.
In a statement to NBC News, the State Department said it is sending inspectors to many counties during state elections, including Harris County. Chapter 34 of the Texas Election Code.
“Our inspectors and trainers will be on hand to assist Harris County officials and ensure that the electoral process runs smoothly and safely during the upcoming November general election, and that mistakes observed in the past are not repeated, and that not a single voting vote has discounted due to clerical errors,” said Secretary of State spokesman Sam Taylor.
Taylor dismissed any criticism of the move, saying that any organization trying to label it as “an attempt to sow mistrust or intimidate voters” is “lying”.
NBC News reached out to the Harris County election administrator for comment.
The Texas review was launched last year after former President Donald Trump urged Texas Governor Greg Abbott to examine the 2020 election results in the state, which Trump handily won. The secretary of state’s office announced hours later that it had begun assessments in Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin counties, the two largest Democratic and two largest Republican counties, respectively.
The review came amid similar efforts by Republicans in several other states, as Trump attempted to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election with baseless accusations of voter fraud.