Live primary election updates: Polls close in most of Texas, but final results won’t be known for hours

Voters cast their ballots at the Lochwood Branch Library in Dallas on Feb. 25, 2022, the last day of early voting in the Texas primary. (Shelby Tauber For The Texas Tribune, Shelby Tauber For The Texas Tribune)

Most Texas polling locations closed at 7 p.m., but results not yet known

The polls closed across much of Texas at 7 p.m. Tuesday, meaning most counties can begin reporting results. El Paso and two other counties at the western edge of the state are on Mountain Standard Ttime, so their polls close an hour later.

Counties usually report their early voting results first, followed by election day tallies. It can take hours for counties to drive their voting machines to local election headquarters and longer for the votes to be counted, so it will likely take hours for winners to be crowned in many races.

— Matthew Watkins

Tarrant County maneuvers around election staff shortages after several voting centers temporarily closed

Several voting locations in Tarrant County were initially unable to open Tuesday because of election staff shortages, leading county officials to allow party-appointed election judges to operate the opposing party’s voting machines and avoid closing those polling locations altogether, according to the county’s elections administrator.

More than a dozen Tarrant County polling locations were intermittently closed for two hours Tuesday morning because one of the parties did not have a county election judge present, elections administrator Heider Garcia said in an interview with The Texas Tribune.

There were around 10 or 11 polling locations with Democratic vacancies and two or three with Republican vacancies this morning, Garcia said.

Out of locations with the Democratic vacancies, eight of the locations still had Republican election judges who volunteered to run Democrats’ polling machines as of Tuesday afternoon.

Democrats operated Republicans’ machines in at least one instance, but Garcia said he believed a Republican poll worker then became available.

Without reallocating election staff, Garcia said the entire polling location would need to be closed because under state law, a polling location can’t only serve one party, he said.

“Rather than closing it and disenfranchising a lot of people, we said let’s find a way to staff them,” Garcia said.

Polling judges preside over voting locations to ensure that the election process is administered fairly and lawfully. Since the parties appoint their own polling judges and staff members, the county couldn’t directly control how many party election judges were lined up for Tuesday’s primary, Garcia said.

“We’re kind of at their mercy,” he said.

The locations with vacancies were ones that typically saw a low turnout for the party with the vacancy, he said. For instance, one location that had only a dozen or so Democratic voters last year was missing its Democratic election judge, he said.

Garcia said it’s possible that a few people were turned away during intermittent closures, but he had only heard of that happening to one person.

The county will have to identify why there were election judges missing — Garcia said there’s not one specific reason he could point to yet. Overall, recruiting election judges and poll workers was more difficult this year, he said. But an analysis of why will come after the election. For now, his team was in a “put-out-the-fire mode,” he said.

“I honestly can’t tell you why people are not motivated. We need to talk about that probably in a post-election debrief and maybe make some calls and figure out why people didn’t want to work. Was it pay, was it lack of interest? Was it stress over possible penalties?” he said. “I mean, I don’t know. We need to reach out to the people who said no.”

If a polling location is closed because an election judge is missing, residents should contact their local elections office for information. Tarrant County’s election office can be reached at 817-831-8683. — Reese Oxner

Gov. Greg Abbott won’t say whether he voted for Attorney General Ken Paxton

At a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott declined to say whether he voted for Attorney General Ken Paxton or to voice support for the challenged incumbent. Paxton is in a contentious four-way primary and is hoping to avoid a runoff against any of his challengers.

Abbott told a reporter that he would not reveal his secret ballot. When asked whether he wanted to say anything about his support for Paxton, Abbott replied, “I’m going to let the voters decide.”

Abbott was at the Governor’s Mansion on Tuesday to announce that Texas had won an economic development award from an industry magazine. — Eleanor Kilbanoff

Harris County experiences minor technical issues with its voting machines at a few polling locations

Harris County reported minor technical issues with its voting machines early into the Texas primary election Tuesday morning, according to local media.

The county is experiencing isolated problems at a few of its sites, KHOU-TV reported.

The popular polling station Metropolitan Multi-Service Center is running into issues, the Houston TV news station said, although the problems seem to be on the Democratic polling side. Poll workers have doubled up on tech support in an effort to get the machines running properly.

That location had the highest estimated waits for voting, with 50 people queued in line and an estimated 29-minute wait time, according to the county’s interactive polling locations map at around 10:30 a.m. The interactive map was also temporarily down after an influx of traffic earlier in the day, according to KHOU-TV. — Reese Oxner

Polls open up for Texas primary election

Voters are heading to the polls Tuesday to choose party nominees for the general election. With newly drawn maps reducing the numbers of competitive races in November, the primary may be the most consequential part of the election cycle.

Many statewide officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, are up for reelection. Other seats — including agriculture commissioner and district-based congressional and State Board of Education seats — are also on the ballot.

If no candidate in a primary election receives a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters could go head-to-head in a May runoff.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Here is a guide to what you can expect to find on your ballot and what you need to know before you head to the polls. If your application to vote by mail was rejected, you can still vote at the polls in person. Curbside voting is also available at all polling places for those eligible.

Texans this year face new voting restrictions that the Republican-led state Legislature enacted last year. Voters with disabilities fear new limits on voting assistance could mean criminal charges at the polls. Local election officials have already said a high number of mail-in ballots were initially rejected because they did not comply with new ID requirements.

Nearly 10% of registered voters in Texas cast their ballots early, according to preliminary turnout data from the secretary of state’s office. Texas has a history of low voter turnout, which may be magnified because of the new voting restrictions.

If you are voting by mail, ballots should be postmarked by 7 p.m. on election day. They must be received by county elections offices by 5 p.m. the day after election day. — Sneha Dey

Disclosure: The Texas secretary of state has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.