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Live updates: Split primaries spur staff shortages in Texas

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Posted at 3:54 PM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 20:03:47-05

The latest developments on Texas’ primary election:

FORT WORTH — Some Texas counties are running a split primary, when two elections happen separately but simultaneously at polling locations. That is spurring voter frustration and tensions between the parties over the sharing of resources.

In Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth, Elections Administrator Heider Garcia confirmed the county saw isolated issues with machines Tuesday at some polling locations. He said in a split primary, each party has its own machines programmed and allocated and that one party’s voters cannot use the other party’s machines.

Across Texas, political parties in each county choose to run a split or joint primary on election day. Each party is responsible for staffing their election during a split primary and can choose to help the opposite party if they are experiencing staffing shortages.

In the Houston area, Harris County Elections Administrator’s Office spokeswoman Leah Shah said the parties notified the county of staffing shortages just three days before the election. She said it is possible voters could see one side of the room not used, while the other faces long lines.

Shah said the election materials were allocated at each polling location based on historical voter turnout data. There must be both a Republican and Democrat election judge at each polling location for both sides of the polling location to be open to voters.

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HOUSTON — Absent poll workers and technical hiccups are causing isolated delays leading to some voters having to wait to cast their primary ballots in two major Texas cities.

In Houston Tuesday morning, some voters scrambled to find where to go after a Harris County website that directs voters to polling places went down for about 90 minutes. County elections spokesperson Nadia Hakim told the Houston Chronicle that an online list of polling places and a voter information phone line remained active during that time.

In Fort Worth, a handful of poll workers did not show up as scheduled, delaying the opening of some polling places in Tarrant County.

Tarrant County’s Elections Administrator Heider Garcia told WFAA-TV that the county was short 10 Democratic poll workers and two from the Republican side. He says the county was able to open all its polling places by 11 a.m.

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AUSTIN, Texas — Polls are open in Texas for the nation’s first primary of the 2022 midterm elections.

Voters on Tuesday are picking nominees for governor, congressional seats and more. The results in Texas will offer an early test of former President Donald Trump’s continued strength in the GOP and whether Democrats can hold the line with Hispanic voters along the border.

It’s also the first election under new Texas voting restrictions that have resulted in thousands of rejected mail ballots. Texas is among at least 18 states that will hold elections this year under tougher rules, some of which were driven by Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud in 2020.

The biggest races include Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton trying to keep his job while under the cloud of an FBI investigation. His challengers include George P. Bush, the Texas land commissioner and last member of his famous family who is still in office.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has spent months looking past the primary and campaigning against Democrat Beto O’Rourke, the former presidential candidate who is in line to lock up his party’s nomination for governor.