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Republican senator expects criminal charges in Harris County elections investigation

Governor Greg Abbott was the first to call for an investigation into what he called “widespread problems” with Harris County’s elections.

TEXAS, USA — Now that Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has opened an investigation into the Nov. 8 election in the state’s largest county, the question is whether she will find anything criminal.

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Republican from Houston, thinks she will.

“You’ve got 23 polls that seemed to have run out of paper, or weren’t given enough to start with and they weren’t followed up with to get more ballots to those polls on a timely manner,” Sen. Bettencourt said on Inside Texas Politics.

Governor Greg Abbott was the first to call for an investigation into what he called “widespread problems” with Harris County’s elections. The Governor cited frustration and confusion and said delays were caused by insufficient paper ballots, staffing problems and more.

“The allegations of election improprieties in our state’s largest county may result from anything ranging from malfeasance to blatant criminal conduct,” the Governor said in a statement.

The Harris County Republican Party also filed a lawsuit, claiming the county and Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum violated the Texas Elections Code. 

One allegation includes the improper handling of damaged ballots. But the allegation receiving the most attention involves those paper shortages at 23 polling locations.

Bettencourt claims it led to some voters not being able to cast a ballot.

“One precinct judge had to dismiss 150 people from line. Think about that. You’ve got a line that’s 150 deep and you’re out of paper and you have to dismiss them,” the Republican told us.

But Harris County voters, like voters in many other counties in Texas, had the ability to cast a ballot at any location in the county. And on Election Day, there were 782 voting locations for them to choose from.

Ogg, a Democrat, says she opened her investigation after receiving the referral from the Texas Secretary of State’s Office. She’s also asked the Texas Rangers for assistance. This is the same investigation called for by the Governor.

The Communications Director for the Harris County Elections Administration told us they had no comment because of the ongoing probe.

We also asked Bettencourt whether he’s supporting Donald Trump’s 2024 Presidential run, but this investigation remained front and center.

“Right now, my focus is on this because I want to make sure that everybody understands that this effort is not about being an election denier,” he said. “And what this means is that we’ve got to have immediate action. We’ve got to have an investigation. So, I’m not going to be involved in any other political activity until we get to the bottom of this mess in Harris County.”

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