Big Turnout, Some Glitches, in the Primaries Across the Houston Area

Trying to fix the voting machine in Fort Bend County Tuesday night.
Trying to fix the voting machine in Fort Bend County Tuesday night. Houston Press photo
In a day punctuated by large crowds at polling places with subsequent polling machine glitches and long line waits at some locations, thousands upon thousands of voters turned out to make their selections known for the elections in the fall.

A lot was status quo. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (85.34 percent) easily handled his four opponents and will face off with Beto O’Rourke (who tallied 61.82 percent of the vote against two opponents in his primary race) in the fall. Governor Greg Abbott got a resounding vote of confidence (90.39 percent) among voters in the Republican primary, somewhat less so for Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (75.91 percent). On the Democratic side, Lupe Valdez (42.89 percent) will be in a runoff with Andrew White (27.38 percent) to see who gets to vie for governor come November.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush had a tougher go of it (58.18 percent) versus challenger Jerry Patterson (31.2 percent). Bush will face Democratic challenger Miguel Suazo (70 percent). Ag Commissioner Sid Miller also had more of a run for it (55.83 percent of the vote) against two challengers who split the remaining votes.  Seems that no matter what he does or says, Republicans want him in office. He’ll face Kim Olsen, the only Democratic nominee.

Republican incumbent John Culberson (76.1 percent) retained the right to run for his U.S. Representative District 7 seat in the fall against either Lizzie Pannill Fletcher or Laura Moser who’ll be in a Democratic primary runoff.

Despite Gov. Abbott’s wishes, incumbent Sarah Davis of House District 134 won her primary (56.29 percent) against Abbott-endorsed Susanna Dokupil (43.7 percent) and will face off against a Democratic challenger Allison Lami Sawyer who received 90.56 percent of the votes in her race.

If voters wanted to establish a benchmark for the night, they did so in the Democratic race for U.S. Representative District 29 where Sylvia Garcia with 63.21 percent of the vote won the right to face either Phillip Aronoff (38.61 percent) or Carmen Maria Montiel (23.58 percent) in the fall once the Republican runoff elections take place. If elected, she would be the first Latina congress member from Houston.

In other Democratic primary returns, U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee easily handled (86.03 percent) her District 18 challenger (and took time out of her day to attend the Houston ISD press conference in the middle of the day.)

Amazingly, State Rep. Ron Reynolds who has been convicted of ambulance chasing, was voted in with 61.38 percent of the vote over opponent Wilvin Carter (38.61).

A number of civil rights groups reported what they said were polling problems in Harris County that they said kept people away from voting. According to the groups which included the Texas City Rights Project, Texas Organizing Project and Common Cause Texas, these were the problems in Harris County:

"Ventana Lakes Recreation Center: The e-poll books here were not working, delaying its opening for an hour and a half until 8:30 AM.

Pershing Middle School: Only one voting machine was working when this polling place opened because there were too few electrical outlets to power the machines.

John Marshall Middle School: “Technical difficulties” delayed the use of voting machines at the polling place.
Monte Beach Park Community Center: The opening of this polling place was delayed due to a technical issue, resulting in wait times of at least 1 hour to vote.

Westbury Baptist Church: Voters were told they could not vote because of an e-poll book malfunction.

Chris the Servant Lutheran Church: We received a report of people being unable to vote due to “technological issues.”

Platou Community Center: We received a report that, at this polling place, it took four attempts to get the voting machines to accept votes.

Church of Christ Lake Houston: We received reports of delays because of voting machine issues."
Over in Fort Bend County, the voting machine at the Hightower High School polling place failed about 7:40 p.m. as election workers were moving through the last group of about 70 people who'd lined up before the 7 p.m. cutoff time. It was after 9 p.m. before the machine was fixed, during which time at least one voter said that was it for him and left without voting.

Official results from the Secretary of State's Office for the Republican and Democratic primaries are online.

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