According to statements made recently by the Elections Administrator for Harris County, Texas, Isabel Longoria, extreme fatigue was one of the reasons that thousands of ballots were uncounted in the state’s March 1 primary elections.
More than 10,000 mail-in ballots were overlooked in the primary’s unofficial election night count, approximately 4,000 of which were Republican and 6,000 Democratic.
The disaster culminated in Longoria announcing her decision to resign from her post on July 1 to give the county enough time to find someone to fill her position.
She told county commissioners that while workers were recording the results on Election Day, she had concerns over her staff’s ability to work continuously through the evening. Longoria’s office had been understaffed because of budget restrictions.
After voicing her worries, Longoria noted that the county’s Republican Party said that neither she nor her staff would be allowed to take breaks and needed to work all night to count the votes.
“As you can see that led to the issue at 1 a.m. with those 10,000 mail ballots that, by the way, were not lost,” Longoria commented.
“They were tabulated. They were always in the room. It was a situation of exhaustion and my staff just trying to compensate and cope with the Texas election code in complying with this 24-hour continuous count rule, which does not take into account the human capacity to stay up that long.”
In her comments, Longoria added that some of her staff members became sick from being so tired, which led to at least one worker having a “near heart attack.” She also blamed the oversight on the new voting machines, which required printing and scanning paper ballots.
Additionally, Longoria noted that it is normal for counties to need more time to count votes, saying Harris was not the only county to discover ballots following the 24-hour time limit.
She claimed that the requirement is outdated and “does not meet the need of increased numbers of votes and increased technological and accountability standards in the state.”