By Ashley Sadler
A forensic Texas audit published this week argued that “serious issues” had occurred in a major county during the 2020 general election. Democrat-controlled Harris County, the most populous in Texas, was discovered to have a range of “severe” issues ranging from ballot chain of custody to “very serious issues in the handling of electronic media.”
The full 359-page report found that most Texas counties appear to have properly followed election law in the 2020 election, but “in some cases … they did not.”
While Tarrant County ran a “quality, transparent election” and Collin County “proved to be the model of how to run elections in Texas,” The Epoch Times reported that Dallas and Harris counties reportedly fell short.
The outlet pointed out that Dallas and Harris are the “two largest Democrat-controlled counties” in Texas, and Collin and Tarrant are the biggest counties in the Lone Star state that are led by Republicans.
The @TxSecofState's office released the final phase of its 2020 election audit of several counties.
The most serious issues occurred in #HarrisCounty, followed by #Dallas with 2 large problems, including “phantom voters.” https://t.co/pgkaWc4cva
— The Epoch Times (@EpochTimes) December 23, 2022
The Epoch Times reported that most of the problems reportedly occurred in Harris County, where the audit uncovered “very serious issues in the handling of electronic media.”
“These issues were so severe that [the Forensic Audit Division] notified Harris County of our preliminary findings by letter prior to the 2022 General Election,” the report said.
Other Harris County issues included failures in “proper chain of custody” for “at least 14 polling locations” and “mobile ballot boxes (MBBS) containing 184,999 cast vote records included in the tally.”
According to the report, county officials were unable “to provide documentation for the creation of 17 MBBs accounting for 124,630 cast vote records.”
In addition, the county reportedly lacked appropriate inventory of “warehoused records” pertaining to the 2020 election, and sometimes used labels that “inaccurately described the contents” of boxes.
Harris County stood alone as “the only county that did not provide a “list of Early Voting or Election Day polling locations that had a discrepancy of one percent or more between the number of voters that checked in to the number of votes cast at that location.”
“This is basic reconciliation that should have been easily produced,” the audit report argued.
Meanwhile, Dallas County also had its fair share of problems.
According to the audit report, “pollbook issues” in the major Texas county “created what Dallas County termed ‘phantom voters.’”
“When a voter checked in, the electronic pollbook checked in a different voter,” the report said, a phenomenon that reportedly impacted at least 188 Dallas County voters. The report noted that thanks to “incomplete records,” its audit division “was unable to determine if additional voters were affected.”
In addition, the county reportedly “misplaced 318 provisional votes that were discovered in February 2021 after the election had been certified,” including 63 ballots that “would have counted if processed correctly.” Twenty-one voters in Dallas County reportedly “received credit for voting by mail” even though “their unopened ballots” were located “in sealed carrier envelopes.”
Officials also discovered that one individual “assisted 393 voters in completing mail ballot applications.”
The news comes after a series of public calls by Texas officials for an investigation into Harris County’s election handling, The Epoch Times pointed out.
Last month, Director of Forensic Audit Division Chad Ennis asked for a review into the “allegations of criminal activity” related to Harris County’s handling of the contest
“After our interviews, we believe the information regarding potential offenses warrants a submission for criminal investigation to the Texas Attorney General and the Harris County District Attorney’s office,” Ennis wrote.
Similarly, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued a public call for “an investigation into the widespread problems” in the state’s most-populous county on November 14.
“The allegations of election improprieties in our state’s largest county may result from anything ranging from malfeasance to blatant criminal conduct,” Abbott said. “Voters in Harris County deserve to know what happened. Integrity in the election process is essential. To achieve that standard, a thorough investigation is warranted.”