The Texas Tribune: Natalia Contrerashttps://www.texastribune.org/about/staff/natalia-contreras-votebeat-and-the-texas-tribune/The latest news by Natalia Contreras.enWed, 26 Jun 2024 11:00:00 -0500Fixing Texas’ ballot secrecy problems won’t be easy, experts sayhttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/06/26/texas-ballot-secrecy-problems-election-transparency/The burden will fall on local officials to determine which records they’re obligated to release or redact.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneWed, 26 Jun 2024 11:00:00 -0500https://www.texastribune.org/2024/06/26/texas-ballot-secrecy-problems-election-transparency/Voter advocacy groups ask feds to step in after Texas allowed some voters’ ballots to be identifiedhttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/06/12/texas-ballot-secrecy-justice-department-voter-advocates/The request comes as state and local officials undermined ballot secrecy in their bids for election transparency.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneThu, 13 Jun 2024 15:39:42 -0500https://www.texastribune.org/2024/06/12/texas-ballot-secrecy-justice-department-voter-advocates/People walk past a "Vote Here" sign outside of the Austin Oaks Church on Mar. 1, 2024. Early voting ends today for the primaries.People walk past a 'Vote Here' sign outside of the Austin Oaks Church on Mar. 1, 2024. Early voting ends today for the primaries.Maria Crane/The Texas TribuneTexas conservatives want to end countywide voting. The costs could be high.https://www.texastribune.org/2024/06/12/texas-county-wide-voting/More than 80% of the state’s registered voters can cast their ballot anywhere in the county on election day. Scrapping that option could lead to disenfranchisement, experts say.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneWed, 12 Jun 2024 05:00:00 -0500https://www.texastribune.org/2024/06/12/texas-county-wide-voting/A voter walks past an election sign on his way to vote at Cavazos Middle School in Lubbock on Nov. 8, 2022.A voter walks past an election sign on his way to vote at Cavazos Middle School in Lubbock on Nov. 8, 2022.Mark Rogers for The Texas TribuneTexas tells local election officials to stop releasing information that exposes how some people votehttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/06/06/texas-voting-ballot-secrecy-public-records-elections/The emergency guidance from the secretary of state comes after Votebeat and The Texas Tribune confirmed the choices some voters make can later be identified through legally available records.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneThu, 06 Jun 2024 13:55:54 -0500https://www.texastribune.org/2024/06/06/texas-voting-ballot-secrecy-public-records-elections/A ballot is dropped in Austin in October 2020.A ballot is dropped in Austin in October, 2020.Amna Ijaz/The Texas TribuneTop Texas election official acknowledges threats to ballot secrecyhttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/30/texas-ballot-secrecy-election-audits/Rules and practices meant to promote transparency also create vulnerabilities for voters, lawmakers were told.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneThu, 30 May 2024 16:00:00 -0500https://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/30/texas-ballot-secrecy-election-audits/Voters wait in line outside Cody Public Library in San Antonio during the evening hours of Election Day on Oct. 23, 2020.Voters wait in line outside Cody Public Library in San Antonio during the evening hours of Election Day on Oct. 23, 2020.Clint Datchuk for The Texas TribuneTexas officials compromised ballot secrecy as they increased election transparencyhttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/29/texas-ballot-compromised-election-security-transparency/In limited instances, the choices some Texas voters make can later be identified using public, legally available data.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas Tribune, and Karen Brooks Harper and William Melhado, The Texas TribuneWed, 29 May 2024 05:00:00 -0500https://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/29/texas-ballot-compromised-election-security-transparency/Super Tuesday voting lines at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center near downtown Houston on March 3, 2020.Super Tuesday voting lines at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center near downtown Houston on March 3, 2020.Michael Stravato for The Texas TribuneTexas election chiefs face pressure to get details right after judge orders new election in close racehttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/23/texas-election-officials-paperwork-harris-county-election-2022/Some of the problems that prompted a judge to order a new election in a 2022 Harris County race occur often, especially in high-turnout elections, election officials said.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneThu, 23 May 2024 05:00:00 -0500https://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/23/texas-election-officials-paperwork-harris-county-election-2022/Judge DaSean Jones, right, with his attorney at the Harris County Civil Courthouse on April 1. A judge ordered Harris County to hold a new election for the 180th District Court after Republican candidate Tami Pierce, who narrowly lost to Jones, won a lawsuit challenging the results.180th District Court Judge DaSean Jones, right, with his attorney at the Harris County Civil Courthouse on April 1, 2024.Courtesy of Kirk Sides/Houston ChronicleGillespie County election costs balloon after switch to hand counthttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/16/texas-election-hand-count-cost-gillespie-county/The bigger bill for the GOP primary in Gillespie County illustrates how election costs could rise if hand counting of ballots is widely adopted.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneThu, 16 May 2024 05:00:00 -0500https://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/16/texas-election-hand-count-cost-gillespie-county/An election worker hand counts ballots inside of The Edge in Fredericksburg on March 5, 2024. Many of the election workers had been counting since 7 a.m. on Election Day.An election worker hand counts ballots inside of The Edge in Fredericksburg on Mar. 5, 2024. Many of the election workers had been counting since seven in the morning on Election Day.Maria Crane/The Texas TribuneWith lawsuits and recount petitions rising, some Texas elections seem to go on foreverhttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/02/texas-election-challenges-lawsuits-recounts/Courts are still working through election challenges brought as far back as 2021. Experts say the protracted fights threaten voter confidence.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneThu, 02 May 2024 05:00:00 -0500https://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/02/texas-election-challenges-lawsuits-recounts/Harris County elections staff members carry and sort ballot bags at the Elections Technology Center in northwest Houston on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.Harris County Elections Staff members carry in and sort ballot bags at the Elections Technology Center in northwest Houston on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.Annie Mulligan for The Texas TribuneIn one Texas county, elections officials shoulder new costs and burdens to appease skepticshttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/04/23/brazos-county-elections-skeptics/Brazos County election officials are responding to demands from skeptical residents by expanding hand counts and ordering special paper.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneTue, 23 Apr 2024 05:00:00 -0500https://www.texastribune.org/2024/04/23/brazos-county-elections-skeptics/Texas voters cast their ballots during Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Brazos County officials have taken extra measures to allay residents' fears about voting security.Texas voters cast their ballots during Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023 in. Brazos County officials have taken extra measures to allay residents' fears about voting.Photo illustration by Annie Mulligan for The Texas TribuneTexas counties facing surprise surcharge from voter registration software vendorhttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/04/03/oter-registration-texas-votec/Votec, one of only three companies certified to manage voter registration data in Texas, is facing a financial squeeze and asking counties for a 35% surcharge.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneWed, 03 Apr 2024 05:00:00 -0500https://www.texastribune.org/2024/04/03/oter-registration-texas-votec/A software vendor that helps many of Texas' largest counties manage its voter registration files billed them a 35% surcharge to help the company stay afloat.Voter registration forms at a registration event in Austin, on Sept. 27, 2020.Amna Ijaz/The Texas TribuneThey counted primary ballots by hand. Now a Texas county Republican party says they found errors.https://www.texastribune.org/2024/03/19/texas-republican-hand-count-election/After declaring a successful hand count of ballots, Gillespie County Republicans had to fix a series of errors in the results reported from almost every precinct.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneTue, 19 Mar 2024 05:00:00 -0500https://www.texastribune.org/2024/03/19/texas-republican-hand-count-election/Alan Littman, a Gillespie County elections employee, and Joy Smith, a Republican primary election worker, review precinct totals at the county’s election office to aggregate election results before submitting them to the Texas Secretary of State’s office on March 14.Gillespie elections staffer Alan Littman, left, and election worker, Joy Smith, review precinct totals at the county’s election office to aggregate election results before submitting them to the Texas Secretary of State’s office on March 14, 2024.Natalia Contreras / VotebeatRepublicans in a Texas county ditched technology and counted votes by hand. Here’s what happened.https://www.texastribune.org/2024/03/06/texas-primary-election-2024-hand-count-republic-gillespie-county/The Texas Secretary of State and other election experts warned Gillespie County Republicans the process would be expensive, time-consuming and less reliable.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas Tribune, and Jessica Huseman, VotebeatWed, 06 Mar 2024 14:59:59 -0600https://www.texastribune.org/2024/03/06/texas-primary-election-2024-hand-count-republic-gillespie-county/Gillespie County Elections Administrator Jim Riley speaks with Gillespie County Clerk Lindsey Brown in the hallway of the Elections Office in Fredericksburg early Wednesday morning.Gillespie County Elections Administrator Jim Riley speaks in the hallway of the Elections Office in Fredericksburg in the early morning of Mar. 6, 2024.Maria Crane/The Texas TribuneI’m an elections reporter — and I just cast my first vote as a naturalized U.S. citizenhttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/03/05/texas-election-reporter-votes-us-citizen/For a long time, I didn’t want to think or talk about elections or politics. That changed four years ago.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneTue, 05 Mar 2024 15:32:24 -0600https://www.texastribune.org/2024/03/05/texas-election-reporter-votes-us-citizen/Votebeat reporter Natalia Contreras after voting for the first time as a naturalized citizen on Feb. 25 in Corpus Christi.Votebeat reporter Natalia Contreras after voting for the first time in the United States on Feb. 25, 2024 in Corpus Christi.Courtesy of Natalia Contreras/Votebeat“A hornet’s nest”: How one Texas elections chief is doing his job amid ongoing conspiracy theorieshttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/02/22/texas-2024-primary-election-gillespie-county/Gillespie County Republicans are moving forward with a plan to count votes by hand during the 2024 primary election.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneThu, 22 Feb 2024 11:00:00 -0600https://www.texastribune.org/2024/02/22/texas-2024-primary-election-gillespie-county/Gillespie County Elections Administrator Jim Riley holds results from the mock election as the ballot scanner releases the information on Feb. 6. Results were read to county residents following the mock election.Gillespie County elections administrator, Jim Riley, holds results from the mock election as the ballot scanner releases the information on Feb. 6, 2024. Results were read to county residents following the mock election.Maria Crane/The Texas TribuneAnalysis: It took me three tries to register to vote in Texas — and I’m an elections reporterhttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/02/13/exas-voter-registration-election-2024/Moments after I became a naturalized citizen in 2023, I registered to vote. Here’s what happened next.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneTue, 13 Feb 2024 05:00:00 -0600https://www.texastribune.org/2024/02/13/exas-voter-registration-election-2024/Natalia Contreras, a reporter for Votebeat and The Texas Tribune, registered to vote three times before her name appeared on the voting rolls.Voter registration forms at a registration event in Austin, on Sept. 27, 2020.Amna Ijaz/The Texas TribuneWhy this South Texas county closed half its early voting sites for 2024https://www.texastribune.org/2024/02/06/early-voting-texas-2024-changes/A new law requires small counties to increase early voting days and hours — with no new money from the state.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneTue, 06 Feb 2024 05:00:00 -0600https://www.texastribune.org/2024/02/06/early-voting-texas-2024-changes/The Kiva Hut Community Center in Taft, Texas on Jan 26, 2024. The community center has been the town’s only early voting site for years. It won’t be available for early voters in March or in November following the passage of House Bill 1217. The new law is forcing the San Patricio County elections administrator to shut down four early voting locations.The Kiva Hut Community Center in Taft, Texas on Jan 26, 2024. The community center has been the town’s only early voting site for years. It won’t be available for early voters in March or in November following the passage of House Bill 1217. The new law is forcing the San Patricio County elections administrator to shut down four early voting locations.Natalia Contreras/VotebeatWhy some Texas election leaders are scrambling to find more polling locations, machines and workershttps://www.texastribune.org/2024/01/25/texas-primary-election-polling-places-increase/A new law requires counties that allow residents to vote at any polling location to increase the number of locations.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneThu, 25 Jan 2024 05:00:00 -0600https://www.texastribune.org/2024/01/25/texas-primary-election-polling-places-increase/Eliza Smarr and her son Mason, 8, wait in line to cast their ballots on Election Day at the Blue Mound City Hall in Blue Mound on November 8, 2022.Eliza Smarr and her son Mason, 8, wait in line to cast their ballots on Election Day at the Blue Mound City Hall in Blue Mound on November 8, 2022.Shelby Tauber for The Texas TribuneTexas Republicans in one rural county will hand count ballots. Experts say it’s “a recipe for disaster.”https://www.texastribune.org/2023/12/21/texas-republicans-hand-count-votes-election-2024/While hand counting ballots is legal, the Texas Secretary of State has warned local party leaders the effort could be costly and time-consuming.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneThu, 21 Dec 2023 05:00:00 -0600https://www.texastribune.org/2023/12/21/texas-republicans-hand-count-votes-election-2024/Dallas voters stand in line at Highland Hills Library to cast their ballots on Election Day in Dallas. Nov. 3, 2020. The Dallas County Republican Party considered counting all its upcoming primary ballots by hand, but opted not to. However, another local Republican group is pushing forward with the idea.Voters stand in line at Highland Hills Library to cast their ballots on Election Day in Dallas. Nov. 3, 2020. Shelby Tauber for The Texas TribuneTax cuts, teacher pension increases at stake after misinformation-led challenge to 2023 electionhttps://www.texastribune.org/2023/12/01/2023-election-challenge-teacher-pay-tax-cuts/Tax cuts were a major legislative priority for Republican leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott. The governor cannot certify the election results until the challenges are resolved.By Natalia Contreras, Votebeat and The Texas TribuneFri, 01 Dec 2023 10:03:47 -0600https://www.texastribune.org/2023/12/01/2023-election-challenge-teacher-pay-tax-cuts/A series of challenges to the 2023 election could prevent tax cuts and a pension increase for teachers from going into effect.Travis County residents wait in line to vote at the County Tax Office polling location on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Pflugerville.Angela Piazza for The Texas Tribune