Harris County Clerk apologizes for hours-long primary voting delays

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Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman apologized on Friday for the long lines that caused some residents to wait hours to cast their votes during Tuesday’s primary, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The newspaper pointed out the delays were worst in heavily Democratic neighborhoods composed of black and Hispanic voters. The last voter at the Texas Southern University polling site cast a ballot at 1 a.m. Trautman is a Democrat elected in 2018.  

“We take full responsibility for the long lines and wait times and apologize to the voters and communities who were affected,” Trautman said in a statement. “We will reevaluate machine allocations and turnout projections based on both the data we have available and feedback from the community in the primary runoff election.”

The Chronicle’s analysis of the hours-long delays found that two-thirds of polling locations were in west Harris County commissioner precincts held by Republicans, although twice as many Democrats voted in the primary. Also, Trautman placed an equal number of voting machines for each party at each polling site although early voting indicated more Democrats would vote. The Chronicle pointed out that in Sunnyside, where 61 times as many Democrats as Republicans voted, Democrats waited in long lines while GOP machines went unused.

The delays prompted criticism from Democrats, including state Sen. Borris Miles.

“My own party, the Democratic Party, the party I am a member of, has an obligation to fight for our citizens, to go to the mat for them and it was clear, WE DID NOT DO THAT!”  Miles said in a statement after the primary.

Trautman said the county plans to buy additional machines. More early voting sites will also be made available, she said.

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