“I want to ensure the Voters of Harris County that Election Night Totals have been verified to be accurate and correct,” said Stan Stanart, Harris County Clerk and Chief Election Officer. “Unfortunately several of the intermediate Election Night results did not reflect the exact numbers in the central count database. The issue was caused by human error outside of the central count database during the merging of the mail ballot results with the Early Voting in Person and the Election Day results.”
The Election was required to be counted on two databases due to the discovery that the Harris County Department of Education district lines were inaccurate after the majority of Mail Ballots had been sent out for the Primary Runoff Election. The discovery of the inaccurate district lines required that 460 of the over 30,000 mail ballots had to be re-mailed. Because the election was counted on two databases, a second process was required to merge the two databases in order to create a complete report. It was in the merging of these two databases on a separate computer from the Central Count computer that Election Technicians incorrectly merged the previous merged report into the new report.
“As the Chief Election Official of Harris County, I regret that this happened and I apologize to the voters that the intermediate results were incorrectly merged and posted to the web. While the Central Count Judges for the Political Parties reviewed every released report, my staff should have caught this issue. I want to assure you that we have verified that the two central count databases were at all times accurate,” stated Stanart.
“It was in reviewing the 11:43 PM Republican merged report with the Republican Central Count Judge that I found this issue,” said Stanart. The election team then became very focused on identifying the issue and worked with the Central Count Judges to ensure that results were accurately reported. The final authority in Central Count is the respective Judges from the Political Parties. It was initially thought that the issue was isolated to the Republican Party intermediate reports, but it was later found to have affected intermediate results for both parties.
“To ensure that this never happens again, I will be holding people responsible, technicians will be re-trained and procedures will be faithfully and accurately followed in the future. I will be putting in place, not only additional procedures, but a second verification software program to independently verify the results out of the reporting software used to merge the central count databases. This will not happen again,” stated Stanart.
As noted in every Election Night report, the numbers posted are unofficial. There are many steps of verification after Election Day to ensure that every voter’s vote is accurately counted. Provisional ballots are still being processed by the Ballot Board and the Military and Overseas ballots are accepted for five days after Election Day. The Ballot Board Judges and the Central Count Judges are the authority for acceptance of all ballots.
After this Election is finalized, we will be diligently focused on the November Elections. The political parties, for fiscal and historical reasons, provided an insufficient number of polling locations in the Runoff Primary. The turnout was exceptionally large and broke every record for a runoff election. “Unlike the primary, Election Day polling locations for General Elections are selected by the County Clerk’s Office. We will have a full complement of Election Day voting locations for the Presidential Election and fully prepared to serve a record breaking turnout of voters,” concluded Stanart.