More than 2 million registered Harris County voters who are able to participate in the upcoming November elections could still be under the jurisdiction of the county’s elections administrator office after a Texas judge ruled Senate Bill 1750 is unconstitutional.

“This ruling is a win for not just Harris County, but for election officials throughout the state,” Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said in a news release. “This case is about protecting Harris County elections and protecting our local officials.”

Senate Bill 1750 was set to go into effect Sept. 1 after it was signed into law in June. SB 1750 would eliminate Harris County’s election administrator system and in turn put election responsibilities to the county tax assessor-collector and county clerk’s office.

With Travis County District Judge Karin Crump’s ruling Aug. 15, the court concluded Harris County is likely to prevail on its claim that SB 1750 violates the Texas Constitution’s prohibition on local laws, according to a news release.

Registered Harris County voters will cast their ballots November for the following:

Clifford Tatum is Harris County’s elections administrator, and under his department the following electoral functions take place, according to the department’s website:

  • Creating the ballot for county, state and federal elections in a manner provided by the state law
  • Establishing the number of early-voting centers and scheduling voting hours
  • Securing Election Day vote centers
  • Securing the county’s election equipment and maintaining of equipment
  • Accepting requests for mail-in ballots and tabulating all returned ballots
  • Archiving official election results and reporting information to the Texas secretary of state for district, statewide and federal offices

Going forward

The state is expected to appeal the district judge’s ruling, Menefee said.

  • Once the state appeals, he said, the court order would be voided, and the case would proceed on appeal.
  • Within 24 hours of that moment, he said the county attorney’s office will seek emergency action from the Texas Supreme Court.

The first day of early in-person voting for Harris County is Oct. 23.

Zooming out

The Travis County district judge’s ruling comes just over a month after the city of Houston also filed a lawsuit against the state that challenges how cities and counties can govern themselves across a variety of government codes.