Texas district attorney reveals voting mix-up let partner cast vote in her name in Super Tuesday loss

‘If it can happen to the district attorney, it can happen to anyone,’ said Harris County DA Kim Ogg

Martha McHardy
Wednesday 06 March 2024 20:37 GMT
Related video: Harris County DA Ogg on election results

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Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has raised alarms about voting procedures in Texas after she was turned away from the polls on Super Tuesday because her ballot had already been cast.

In a statement posted on X, Harris County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth said Ms Ogg was unable to vote after her partner – with whom she shares an address – inadvertently cast a ballot in her name during early voting last week.

“Last Friday, DA Ogg’s partner, who is registered to vote at the same address as DA Ogg, voted in the primary under DA Ogg’s name,” the statement read.

“In the process of qualifying a voter, each voter is asked to review and confirm the information that appears on the iPad screen, including the voter’s name. If the information that appears on the screen is not accurate, the voter must notify the election clerk.

“In this instance, the DA’s partner must not have noticed that the information was not hers, and proceeded to sign in and vote under DA Ogg’s name. We believe this is the case because DA Ogg’s partner signed her own name as confirmation,” Ms Hudspeth added.

“Clerical errors can occur at the polls. It is the voter’s responsibility to verify that their information on the iPad screen is correct before they are issued a poll code,” the statement continued.

Ms Ogg, whose name was on Tuesday’s Democratic primary ballot, was later able to cast her vote, according to Ms Hudspeth.

“We were able to assist DA Ogg with rectifying this voter error so she can cast her ballot,” Ms Hudspeth said in a statement, adding that the vote cast by DA Ogg’s partner cast has been transferred to her own name.

Following the mixup, Ms Ogg told CNN that the incident raised questions over voting procedures in Harris County.

“I’m the top law enforcement official in the third-biggest jurisdiction in the nation,” she said. “If it can happen to the district attorney, it can happen to anyone.”

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg (AP)

Ms Ogg said she was “shocked” by the incident, adding that it is the job of election officials, not voters, to protect the integrity of voting.

“The entire reason that we have election judges and poll workers is to prevent voter fraud, so checking the ID against the person who is voting and against the rolls is entirely the job of the clerk,” she said. “I was shocked when they pushed it back on the voter.”

“My partner wasn’t trying to commit fraud,” she added. “She was just trying to vote.”

The incident happened ahead of Ms Ogg’s loss in the Democratic primary against former prosecutor Sean Teare.

Ms Ogg admitted defeat on Tuesday night after Mr Teare won the early vote by almost 57 percentage points.

Later, with 176 out of 545 election day voting locations reporting results, Mr Teare was leading Ms Ogg 77 per cent to 23 per cent, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Ms Ogg served two terms as Harris County’s District Attorney after she became in 2016 the first Democrat to run the state’s largest DA’s office in 40 years.

At the time, she seemed to represent a departure from the county’s historic tough-on-crime stance, promising reforms aimed at diverting people accused of low-level crimes, like marijuana possession, from jail.

But Ms Ogg has been accused of failing to fulfil her promises after she fiercely resisted bail reforms striking down the county’s previous practice of routinely detaining people with petty charges who couldn’t afford to pay for their bail.

The Harris County DA has also been criticised for attempting to unseat a Democratic criminal court judge who was vocally critical of her and attempting to prosecute another Democratic judge who had publicly sparred with her over bail reforms.

Ms Ogg’s office is also currently prosecuting former aides of Democratic Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who repeatedly clashed with the DA over criminal justice policy, over alleged improprieties involving a county contract.

Late last year, Ms Ogg’s tensions with her party reached boiling point when Harris County Democrats officially admonished her, voting overwhelmingly to pass a resolution stating that she had “abused the power of her office to pursue personal vendettas against her political opponents, sided with Republicans to advance their extremist agenda, and stood in the way of fixing the broken criminal justice system.”

Ms Ogg has vehemently defended herself against the criticism, dismissing the resolution as “misinformation.”

“A few partisan extremists will never subvert the rights of voters in the upcoming March primary,” she said at the time. “I trust the people of Harris County to base their vote in the upcoming election on facts, not lies and misinformation propagated by my opponent and his supporters.”

Mr Teare will now face Republican Dan Simons in the November general election.

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