Harris County sues Texas AG to block ABC13 from getting midterm elections documents

Nick Natario Image
Thursday, April 13, 2023
Harris Co. sues Texas AG to avoid revealing midterm elections docs
Harris Couty sues the Texas attorney general to block the media, ABC13, from getting documents revealing issues during the midterm elections.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County has filed a lawsuit against the Texas attorney general to fight ABC13 from getting records related to the November midterm elections.

In less than four weeks, Harris County voters will once again head to the polls. It comes at a time when we're waiting to find out what happened during the previous election.

During the midterm, some polling locations opened late, and others ran out of paper. An election assessment was vague on specifics.

READ MORE: Fiery elections debate continues in Harris County as leaders wait on reports into what went wrong

This is why Eyewitness News asked for documents. Now, the county may use taxpayer money to fight us from getting the records.

"Ninety-nine times out of 100, the government agency turns the information over," Associate Attorney Kelsey Galbraith explained. "Unfortunately, that 1% of the time, things like this happen."

Five months ago, ABC13 asked for midterm planning documents and communication between county leaders. The county asked the Texas attorney general to decline our request citing lawsuits the county faced during the election.

Last month, the attorney general ruled against the county. This means the county had 30 days to release records or file a lawsuit.

Wednesday was the deadline. ABC13 learned the county filed a lawsuit against the attorney general.

"They can ask a court in Travis County to look at all of the documents in camera, basically in the judge's chambers, not publicly, and decide if the attorney general got it right or got it wrong," Galbraith said.

This doesn't happen often. Last year, the attorney general made 40,000 of these rulings. Less than 1% were challenged.

Legal experts said a lawsuit could mean the records aren't released for months or even years.

"It's central to our democratic form of government that the people know what the government is doing to be informed to make proper decisions," Attorney Joe Larsen said.

Even if we got the documents before voters head to the polls in a few weeks, we don't know if there would be any answers in them. But with a lawsuit filed, it may take months before we even get to see what's in them.

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SEE ALSO: Votes in Harris County continue to be counted following problems and confusion on Election Day

One voter last night said she went to vote after finding out she could until 8 p.m., she waited in line, but then after the court's ruling, she wasn't able to cast her vote.