The Harris County Attorney’s Office announced plans May 24 to sue the state over two election bills passed by the 88th Texas Legislature that would eliminate Harris County’s elections administrator position.

What’s happening?

With a 81-62 vote, the Texas House passed Senate Bill 1750 on May 23, effectively eliminating Harris County’s election administrator system. With the passing of SB 1750, election responsibilities will be directed to the Harris County tax assessor-collector and the Harris County clerk.

A second bill, SB 1933, which garnered a 81-51 vote, would allow the secretary of state’s office to oversee Harris County elections if an election complaint is filed.

Those opposed

“We have not had a single court rule that a single voter was disenfranchised in Harris County,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said during a May 24 news conference. “Of course, the Legislature doesn't care about the fact [that] they're only targeting Harris County on this because they want to control who we elect. Nine out of the 10 largest counties in the state of Texas have an elections administrator, but they want to eliminate ours.”

Those in favor

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, authored both SB 1750 and SB 1933.

“The public’s trust in elections in Harris County must be restored after a continuing set of problems culminating [in] the fact that the current elections administrator couldn’t or wouldn’t get millions of sheets [of] ballot paper out of the warehouse to the polls for voters to vote on, and that’s real voter suppression,” Bettencourt said via a May 24 news release. “It cannot be tolerated in the nation’s third-largest county.”

What’s next?

Harris County will take a dual approach to the bills, should they be signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said May 24.
  • The county will sue state officials over SB 1750 and SB 1933.
  • County leaders will also prepare to transition the November election responsibilities to County Clerk Tenishia Hudspeth.
Melissa Enaje contributed to this report.