Texas House to vote on bill that gets rid of Elections Administrator only in Harris County

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Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Texas House to vote on elections bill that only impacts Harris County
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The bill was also originally drafted with a wider scope, however, it was narrowed to only impact counties with 3.5 million residents. Harris County is the sole county that meets that requirement.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A vote happening in the Texas House on Tuesday has huge implications for the way elections are run in Harris County.

The House gave initial approval on Monday night to two bills that will impact elections. On Tuesday, Senate Bill 1750 is up for a final vote, and it's expected to pass. It will then be up to Gov. Greg Abbott to decide if it becomes state law.

If it passes, it will eliminate the position of Elections Administrator, but the bill only applies to Harris County, not the entire state.

Senate Bill 1933, which establishes state election oversight, will also return to the floor for a vote on Tuesday. However, it will return to the Senate next to debate the differences between two versions of the bill.

RELATED: Is it law yet? See where some of the most consequential bills stand in the 2023 Texas Legislature

The oversight would be triggered if the secretary of state found there was "good cause to believe" that Harris County had "a recurring pattern of problems" with election administration or voter registration, according to our partners at the Houston Chronicle.

All 254 Texas counties were subject to state oversight initially, but a last-minute amendment targets exclusively Harris County.

SB 1750 was also originally drafted with a wider scope, applying to counties with at least 1 million residents. However, it was narrowed to only impact counties with 3.5 million residents. Harris County is the only county in the state that meets that requirement.

If it passes, the bill will return election responsibilities to the elected county clerk and tax assessor-collector. Harris County has had an Elections Administrator for three years.

The bills were written because Republicans in the state say recent elections in Harris County have had major issues.

SEE ALSO: Harris Co. election issues caused by short staffing, malfunctioning machines, paper jams, Astros win

In 2020, about 20 out of the county's 782 polling locations ran out of ballot paper on Election Day, and in 2022, the county missed the deadline for reporting results and uncounted ballots were discovered.

Democrats say the pair of bills are targeting the county because it is a Democratic stronghold on Election Day.

"So, you're saying the egregious acts of Harris County is what led to this bill, but yet, we don't know what other egregious counties were?" Rep. Jarvis Johnson asked.

"The egregious acts of Harris County is what led it to only being about counties with 3.5 million or more. There was another bill that would have been about large counties, but they chose not to do that one because there were not the issues in those counties," House Speaker Briscoe Cain said.

"There absolutely are not any issues with voting in Harris County, except for the fact that it is a blue county and it is your intention to overturn elections in Harris County," Johnson replied.

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