HOUSTON – The final steps are underway to put a new Elections Administrator in place for Harris County.
The “new hire” was announced Tuesday night.
Harris County leaders have chosen Clifford Tatum and they are counting on his experience to get the Harris County elections process back on track.
Tatum remains in DC so he wasn’t able to speak. Before he can assume his new role, he will have to complete a background check, establish residency in Harris County and register to vote.
Tatum will be the second administrator to take office in Harris County after the previous administrator Isabel Longoria resigned on July 1st.
“Mr. Tatum has a wealth of experience. He served as General Counsel for the US Elections Assistant Commission, he was also the Executive Director for the District of Columbia Board of Elections, and he was also the Interim Director for the Georgia State Elections Division,” Michael Winn, Chief Deputy Administration for the Harris County Clerk’s Office said.
According to the Washington Examiner, during Tatum’s time as the Executive Director of the D.C Board of Elections, he admitted there were “missteps” during the November 66, 2012 election, and responded by saying, “We were able to conduct a successful election.”
The previous administrator Isabel Longoria has been in the spotlight for longer than normal vote tally times, equipment issues and 10,000 uncounted ballots from the March primary.
As a former administrator, Chief Deputy Administration for the Harris County Clerk’s Office Michael Winn said there are challenges that come with the job, but he is confident Tatum will do well in Harris County.
“The thing that really sets one apart from another is to be able to bounce back and address those challenges. We feel that Mr. Tatum’s election experience combined with his background in information security and election law makes him perfectly suited for the job,” Winn said.
In a statement, the Harris County Republican Party said:
“Given the major failures of the March primary managed by the previous unqualified and inexperienced Elections Administrator, the Harris County GOP remained vigilant during the search process for this replacement. I have concerns about the short amount of time to prepare for the November election, but I am optimistic that Mr. Tatum will do a better job and has more experience than the previous Elections Administrator. However, I am still concerned about the firing of certain long term employees with institutional knowledge, which occurred after Ms. Longoria submitted her resignation in March. Dismantling the institution causes a breakdown in the transition process and I believe that issue should be looked into and addressed by the new replacement.” - Cindy Siegel, Harris County GOP Chair
Statement issued by Harris County Democratic Party:
“Following a nationwide search, the election commission is thrilled to select Clifford D. Tatum as the county’s new elections administrator. The commission worked well together to reach our decision, and Mr. Tatum was unanimously selected in a 5-0 vote. Mr. Tatum has an impressive background in leading elections — currently with the DC Board of Elections and prior to that as general counsel for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. We are excited to bring him on board. Mr. Tatum’s elections experience — combined with a background in information security and elections law — make him perfectly suited for the Elections Administrator position, and we look forward to welcoming him to Harris County.” -- Odus Evbagharu, Harris County Democratic Party Chair
Commissioner Rodney Ellis’ statement on new Elections Administrator:
“Over the past three years, Harris County has transformed the way we manage elections and became a national model for election access. Through innovative changes such as countywide polling places, drive-thru voting, 24-hour voting, new voting machines, and record numbers of polling places, we’ve knocked down barriers to the ballot box, even with COVID and the State’s voter suppression efforts in the backdrop.
I’m confident that the best is yet to come and look forward to working with our new Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum to take Harris County’s elections to new heights even in these challenging times.
Voters should know that we are making every effort to protect and advance their sacred right to vote in November because the stakes have never been higher for our democracy.”
Alexandra del Moral Mealer issues statement on latest Elections Administrator
“Today, Harris County voters are saying, “here we go again!”
We are about to have our third appointee overseeing the County Election Administrator’s office before the midterm elections. We were the only county out of all 254 counties in Texas who failed to count our votes within 24 hours, as required by law. Embarrassingly, our county made national news for incompetence by an appointee who is not even directly accountable to the voters.
The switch from elected officials overseeing our elections to an appointed administrator, championed by Lina Hidalgo, has led to thousands of misplaced ballots, issues with polling machines, and delayed results – by any measure this experiment has been an abject failure.
Following the resignation of disgraced former Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria, our county had an opportunity to return the oversight of our elections to someone competent, local, and accountable, County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth, a Democrat whose office traditionally has been tasked with conducting our elections. Prior to her own election, our current County Clerk worked under four County Clerks serving that office for nearly two decades. Instead, Lina has opted for a nominee who isn’t from Texas and isn’t intimately familiar with our electoral process.
We need our election officials to be accountable to voters, transparent, and competent. Under current county leadership, we have none of that.
Alexandra is a West Point graduate, a dual-degree holder from Harvard University (JD/MBA), and a proud wife and mother. She is blessed with two precocious toddlers who she is raising alongside her husband Clay, a fellow West Point graduate and combat veteran. On November 11, 2021, she announced her plans to leave the private sector and her career in oil & gas finance to pursue a new stage of service.”