Wednesday’s biggest developments
Sweep of Postal Service finds 815 mail-in ballots in Texas facilities
[6:26 p.m.] The U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday it found 815 mail-in ballots in Texas processing facilities and delivered them to county election offices.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the agency to conduct two sweeps of processing facilities in the state for returned mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Tuesday.
Under Texas law, mail-in ballots that were postmarked by 7 p.m. on Election Day will be counted if county election offices receive them by 5 p.m. the following day. Sullivan required two sweeps by 3 p.m. Central time. Court documents detailed efforts to get the recovered ballots to election offices before the 5 p.m. deadline.
The court-ordered review of 14 processing plants across the state was part of an ongoing legal battle between a number of organizations, led by nonprofit Vote Forward, against the Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Sullivan ordered facilities in 12 districts across the country, including Houston, to sweep for lost mail-in ballots Tuesday. The agency failed to comply. — Shawn Mulcahy
Judge orders another sweep of Texas post offices for ballots
[2:15 p.m.] A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the U.S. Postal Service to immediately sweep Texas processing facilities for mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered that all identified ballots be sent to election offices by 5 p.m. local time.
Under Texas law, mail-in ballots that were postmarked by 7 p.m. on Election Day will be counted if they are received by 5 p.m. the following day. A second sweep of Texas facilities must be completed by 3 p.m. Central time, Sullivan ordered.
His rulings follow a similar instruction on Tuesday in which Sullivan required the Postal Service to sweep facilities in 12 districts nationwide, including Houston. The agency ultimately failed to comply. Wednesday’s action is the latest in an ongoing legal challenge led by the nonprofit organization Vote Forward against the Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over delays in processing election mail. — Shawn Mulcahy
Austin, San Antonio voters approve money for transit plans
[10:45 a.m.] Austin and San Antonio voters approved plans to increase funding for their respective public transit systems on Tuesday.
About 58% of Austin voters as of Tuesday night had voted for a proposal to dedicate 8.75 cents of the city's property tax rate for Project Connect, an ambitious $7.1 billion plan to add rail lines and expand bus service in the capital city. Similar propositions had failed in previous elections. Austinites also approved a separate proposition allocating $460 million for transit improvements such as bike lanes, urban trails and sidewalks.
"Austin is pushing to be more sustainable, equitable and affordable in new and innovative ways," Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement on Tuesday. "The community has spoken, and it demands transformative change to traffic, climate and to achieve fundamental fairness and justice for all."
In San Antonio, around 68% of voters approved Proposition A, which will rededicate a 1/8-cent share of an already existing local sales tax toward public transit, beginning in 2026. VIA, San Antonio’s transit agency, will be able to add the funds to the 5/8-cent share that it already receives.
Transport advocates have said the city's system is underfunded and struggles covering the over 1,200 square miles of Bexar County.
"The revenue from this increment of sales tax will be available for transit improvements in 2026, but securing it today means that we can start important planning — and begin to tap into federal funding that has never before been available to our agency," said Jeffrey C. Arndt, VIA President and CEO in a statement on Wednesday morning.— Juan Pablo Garnham
Houston police chief: Austin City Council to blame for Democrats' losses in Texas
[7:30 a.m.] The Houston police chief blamed Democrats' losses in Texas on The Austin City Council Tuesday night. Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo — a former chief of police in Austin — specifically blamed council members Greg Casar and Jimmy Flannigan.
In a tweet, Acevedo said, “Texas Democrats can thank 'socialist democrats and defund the police crowd' led by @GregCasar, @JimmyFlannigan and the rest of the Austin City Council. Fact, Americans and Texans want better policing, not de-policing, and they don’t want anything to do with any form of socialism.”
The complaint refers to Austin City Council’s decision to transition about $150 million from the police department budget into other areas of public health and safety, according to a report from KXAN. — Aria Jones
Texas Republicans thwarted Democrats' ambitions for Texas House, other key races
[5 a.m.] Texas Democrats underperformed the high expectations they had set for themselves on Election Day, most notably in a hotly contested battle for dominance in the Texas House. That appeared to end with a narrow victory for Republicans, leaving intact the party’s advantage in the chamber.
And a number of potential pickups for Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives seemed increasingly unlikely early Wednesday.
Donald Trump carried Texas on Tuesday, though his reelection was still uncertain Wednesday morning. Republican John Cornyn handily won reelection to his seat in the U.S. Senate, soaring past combat veteran MJ Hegar to notch a victory. Republicans held big leads in other statewide races for Railroad Commission, Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals. — Emma Platoff
President Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden in Texas
[5 a.m.] President Donald Trump carried Texas on Tuesday, winning its 38 electoral votes, as national results continued to show him and former Vice President Joe Biden in a neck-and-neck race. Trump’s Texas margin over Biden — which Decision Desk HQ showed as 52.2% to 46.4% early Wednesday — marks the second-closest statewide race for the White House in the last quarter century. In 1996, GOP nominee Bob Dole beat Bill Clinton by 5 points. Trump prevailed over Hillary Clinton in Texas by 9 points in 2016. — Alex Samuels
John Cornyn fended off MJ Hegar to retain U.S. Senate seat
[5 a.m.] U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, defeated Democratic challenger MJ Hegar on Tuesday. Hegar called Cornyn and conceded within minutes of the race being called, according to both campaigns. Cornyn was competing for his fourth term against Hegar, the former Air Force helicopter pilot who unsuccessfully ran for U.S. House two years ago in suburban Austin. — Patrick Svitek
Disclosure: Steve Adler, a former Texas Tribune board chair, 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.