Abbott signs bills altering election administration in Harris County

On June 20, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed two bills affecting the administration and oversight of elections in Texas’ largest county, Harris County.

SB1750 would transfer all powers and duties of a county elections administrator to the county tax assessor-collector and county clerk in counties with a population of more than 3.5 million. Harris County is the only Texas county with a population exceeding 3.5 million. The other piece of legislation, SB1933, would permit the secretary of state to order a new election in Harris County if more than 2% of polling places run out of ballot paper for more than one hour.

Harris County officials said they will challenge the laws. County Attorney Christian D. Menefee said, “I’m gearing up to sue the state over these bills and I expect to be in the courts in the next couple weeks”, adding, “The Texas Constitution makes clear that Texas legislators should not be abusing their power by singling out a county to address political vendettas instead of doing what’s right for all Texans.”

Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R), the author of both bills, said, “These bills received bipartisan votes during their passage. It’s about performance, not politics. It’s time for the Harris County Commissioners Court to stop filing frivolous election lawsuits that lose consistently and replace a failed Elections Administrator’s Office with Democrat elected officials, as both those departments have a history of running elections far better than the failed appointed Elections Administrator’s.”