Isabel Longoria was sworn in as Harris County's first-ever elections administrator in a virtual ceremony Nov. 18.

As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, Longoria, a longtime community organizer who served as a special adviser on voting rights to former County Clerk Chris Hollins, was chosen as the final candidate for the new position by the Harris County Elections Commission on Oct. 30. The newly-created office will be tasked with setting polling locations, counting ballots and registering voters—duties previously split between the county clerk and tax-assessor collector.

"Voting is power. ... That's why we established this Office of the Elections Administrator, and that's why we wanted to appoint the most qualified and credible person to this position. And that's Isabel Longoria," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said during the swearing in ceremony. "Isabel has incredible experience advocating for the community and community engagement and public policy. She has experience leading the county clerk's office now, as the director under the previous clerk in the largest election we've had in this county, spearheading some of the wildly [successful] programs that got attention and worked beautifully and opened the doors to safe voting to so many people in our community who perhaps wouldn't have voted without those programs. But Isabel, most importantly, you have something that you can't earn through experience—that you either have or you don't have—and that's a passion for this work and a passion for every vote and a passion for the community and the concern, really, for each and every person in this community, which is vital to having a concern, a respect and honoring each and every vote."

To finalize the new office, Harris County Commissioners Court approved a public official bond for Longoria effective Nov. 18 and authorized the transfer of budget funds, staff and equipment from the county clerk and tax assessor-collector to the Office of the Elections Administrator, in a special meeting Nov. 17. According to county officials, the elections administrator will receive an annual salary of $190,000, as was decided upon by the Harris County Elections Commission.

"I am humbled by not only your trust in me but the trust of the Elections Commission and the rest of the commissioners to do exactly that—to serve in this role honorably and with integrity and with the intent, absolutely, every day, to wake up not only excited for this job, but with the purpose ... to never forget the history that has brought us to this moment," Longoria said following her searing in. "To never forget what it means for people who didn't have that right to vote, for people who have earned it recently or earned it through generations, to bring it to this moment and every single day in its own unique way is a continuation of that history."

Longoria added that she would continue to commit to make voting in Harris County accessible, innovative and infused with integrity.

"From the very beginning, I want my commitment to be that even if it's a joint special election runoff where we think only five people will vote, that will be just as an important of an election for my team as the biggest, grandest presidential [election] because every time we vote and every time we participate in democracy is important," Longoria said. "Every vote should count right down to the very last one, and I want to set the precedent from the very beginning. Your vote doesn't just matter because it could sway an election; your vote matters because voting matters. Period."