GOP in Trump-loving Texas county to stage its own primary with no machines or election officials

On Friday, The New York Times reported that Republicans in Potter County, Texas — a panhandle county home to the city of Amarillo — will take the "highly unusual" step of pre-empting local nonpartisan election boards and administering their primary by having their own party officials count ballots by hand.

"Election experts said the changes would confuse voters and create more potential for fraud," reported Jennifer Medina. "Under Texas law, county parties are allowed to run their own primary elections, but the vast majority have contracted with local boards of election for decades. The decision, which was reported by Votebeat, an election news website, comes as Republicans nationally have continued to push baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election and sow doubts about the reliability of election machinery."

Potter County, as with most small to medium-sized urban areas in Texas, is heavily Republican, with former President Donald Trump winning roughly 70 percent of the vote there in 2020.

“The parties have become lazy and complacent, but the primaries are actually the party’s responsibility,” said Daniel Rogers, who chairs the Potter County Republican Party. “The counties are spending millions of dollars on electronic systems, but this way it’s a true secret ballot ... The voters are smarter than our elected officials, than administrators — they don’t trust the voters. I do.”

But Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University, expressed worry. “The integrity of our electoral system depends on institutionalizing and professionalizing election boards," he said. "There will be more doubts about the overall outcome, or it will lead to more slip-ups and more potential flaws and problems than if the professionals ran it.”

Trump has played a heavy role in sowing GOP voters' distrust in the electoral process, repeatedly claiming with no basis that the 2020 election was stolen. Many of his allies have spun conspiracy theories about voting equipment secretly changing people's ballots, which has led to defamation suits filed by Dominion Voting Systems.

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