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Republican Sid Miller has been reelected as Texas agriculture commissioner, defeating Democratic candidate Susan Hays on Tuesday night in a heated race.
Miller, 67, had a strong show of support across rural Texas, while Hays, 53, had the backing of a few urban counties. This year’s election cycle saw low turnout for early voting compared with 2020 and 2018, and more people waited to vote on Election Day this year.
“I am truly humbled,” Miller said on Twitter on Tuesday night.
This will be Miller’s third term in the role. He was first elected in 2014 and has since been able to stave off being unseated by both Democratic and Republican challengers. During this election cycle, high-ranking Texas Republicans were privately undermining Miller, too.
How Texas counts ballots
How can I check whether my ballot was counted?
Voters can check with their county election officials to see whether their vote was counted. Some counties also make this information available on their websites. Find your county website here. Who a person voted for is not public record. If you voted through a provisional ballot because of an administrative issue or photo ID problem, you should receive a notice by mail letting you know if your ballot was counted by Dec. 2. Voters who vote by mail can use an online tracker to check the status of their mail-in ballot. You can access the tracker here.
How are votes counted in Texas elections?
County officials can begin counting early voting results, including mail-in ballots, on as early as the last day of early voting in large counties. Those results are usually posted online shortly after polls close at 7 p.m. on Election Day. Counties must count results from each polling location within 24 hours of the polls closing. Those counts are added in increments to the tally, which is then updated online. This takes time as polling places are closed down and election materials are transported back to county election officials. Election Day results are unofficial because officials still have to account for late arriving mail-in ballots, ballots from military or overseas voters and provisional ballots.
Where can I see election results?
For federal, district and state elections, you can find results on our results page. The data is from our partner Decision Desk HQ, which gathers information from the Texas Secretary of State’s office and a representative sample of 50 counties to provide estimates as to how many votes are left to be counted and call winners. For local elections, you can find results on your county’s website. Find yours here.
How are ballots and elections protected in Texas?
Voting machines and software are certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and the Texas Secretary of State. Machines used to mark and read ballots cannot connect to the internet to protect against hacking. The machines also have seals with unique serial numbers and are locked down at the end of voting. Paper ballots are also stored in locked boxes and must be preserved for at least 22 months after an election. Texas requires counties that use electronic machines to count votes to conduct a partial manual audit after the election. Read more about election safeguards here.
How common is voter fraud?
Several studies, reports and courts have found that voter fraud is relatively rare, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute. Instances of alleged fraud have also in some cases turned out to be mistakes by elections administrators or voters, according to the center. The Texas Secretary of State’s office launched an audit of the 2020 election results in Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin Counties. The audit is ongoing, but an initial report found few discrepancies between manual and electronic counts. The Texas Attorney General’s office also opened 390 cases looking at potential electoral fraud from January 2020 to September 2022, but it only secured five election-related convictions during that period.
Miller continued, “Together with the legislature and all of you, we will pass compassionate use, fund our rural healthcare, ban China from buying TX lands, and unleash our resources to meet our water and power needs for the next 100 years!”
Hays conceded Wednesday morning in a statement in which she thanked voters for their support.
“While my campaign is over, the fight to restore integrity at the Department of Agriculture isn’t,” said Hays in the statement. “The fight to expand Medicaid, save rural hospitals, and create a thriving rural economy, isn’t. The fight for sustainable agriculture and rational, safe cannabis laws, including legalization, isn’t.”
Hays said she would continue to advocate for those priorities in the future.
Miller, a De Leon native, lives in Stephenville, where he began his political career as a school board member. He served in the Texas House of Representatives from 2001-13.
As the state agriculture commissioner, Miller conducted Operation Maverick, which investigated more than 7,000 businesses operating with illegal scales, and has overseen the Farm Fresh program, a farm-to-school initiative that has led to schools purchasing $65 million worth of fresh food from local farmers.
Hays, a longtime rancher and equal rights lawyer, campaigned on a platform of rebuilding rural communities, sustainable agriculture and legalizing cannabis. She said these are still important issues that need to be addressed by state leaders.
Hays questioned Miller’s ethics during the race and said he was not suited for public office. Like Miller’s past opponents, Hays pointed to a list of controversies that include the indictment of his longtime political consultant on charges of theft and bribery in exchange for state hemp licenses. Miller has also been accused of raising taxes and fees on struggling farmers and ranchers and neglecting the job’s essential duties.
The Texas Department of Agriculture promotes rural development, provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers, and oversees grocery store operations. The agency is also responsible for helping rural hospitals with financial aid and technical assistance through its rural health division.
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