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Harris County obtained challenges to 1000’s of voter registrations. It rejected all of them. – Houston Chronicle


The Harris County Elections Administrator’s Workplace obtained a flood of affidavits this summer season difficult the eligibility of 1000’s of registered voters all through the county, accusing them of not residing on the addresses listed on registration information.

Not one of the affidavits led to county elections officers eradicating any names from the voter rolls.

The affidavits are linked to efforts by a conservative grass-roots group referred to as the Texas Election Community, which earlier this yr attempted to get Sunnyside residents to sign forms verifying the identities of registered voters residing at their addresses.

Every affidavit alleges that quite a few registered voters in Harris County “don’t reside on the addresses listed on their voter registration information,” as required by state election legislation. Upon receiving a sworn assertion difficult a voter’s residence, election officers should ship a “Discover of Tackle Affirmation” to the voter in query.

The challenges had been first reported by The New York Times, which discovered the affidavits disputed the eligibility of greater than 6,000 voters.

In all, the Elections Administrator’s Workplace obtained 115 affidavits, in line with Leah Shah, a spokesperson for the elections workplace.

Of these, Shah stated, 66 had been rejected as a result of they “didn’t meet statutory necessities and contained incomplete data.”

One other 49 challenges got here in after Aug. 10, the ninetieth day earlier than the election. The Nationwide Voter Registration Act of 1993, generally known as the “motor voter act,” bars election officers from performing most voter roll upkeep actions inside 90 days of a federal election. The restriction applies to any program supposed to “systematically take away the names of ineligible voters from the official record of eligible voters,” together with “basic mailings and door to door canvasses,” according to the Justice Department.

Every of the kinds submitted by numerous Harris County residents cited voter registration knowledge retrieved by the Texas Election Community, together with the residents’ personal canvassing efforts.

“I’ve personally been informed by individuals really residing at these addresses that the challenged voter doesn’t reside at that tackle and isn’t solely briefly absent from that tackle with an intent to return,” the affidavits learn. “I’m requesting that the Harris County Elections Administrator take the actions required by the Texas Election Code.”

Shah stated the workplace “will work in coordination with the county lawyer’s workplace to overview and decide the validity of all challenges on a case-by-case foundation” after the midterm election.

When the Texas Election Community’s canvassing efforts in Sunnyside got here to gentle in early July, County Lawyer Christian Menefee’s workplace stated it was “investigating this problem and exploring authorized choices to guard residents and stop this from occurring once more.”

Requested in regards to the standing of the investigation this week, county lawyer spokesperson Roxanne Werner stated, “Though we’ve got not discovered any additional exercise by this group, we’re persevering with to watch the state of affairs and can take motion if acceptable. We received’t enable any group to have interaction in unlawful conduct to try to take away registered voters off the rolls.”

Texas Election Community board member Alan Vera couldn’t be instantly reached for remark. In July, he defended the canvassers, who gave the impression to be carrying badges figuring out themselves as members of the group, in line with doorbell digital camera video footage recorded by a Sunnyside resident.

“The folks canvassing residents are grass-roots volunteers for the nonprofit group referred to as Texas Election Community and they’re carrying badges that clearly state the title of the group with the nonprofit registration quantity on the again,” Vera stated in a press release to the Chronicle in July. “These volunteers are usually not staff of any political get together. The nonprofit’s mission is to empower residents to make sure and shield honest and clear elections.”

Vera chairs the poll safety committee of the Harris County Republican Celebration, which a celebration spokesperson famous just isn’t affiliated with Texas Election Community. The group was created in July 2021 by Melissa Conway, the Republican Nationwide Committee’s Texas state director for election integrity, in line with paperwork filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s workplace.

Harris County Republican Celebration Chair Cindy Siegel couldn’t be instantly reached for remark.

The variety of voter roll challenges this yr outpaces these recorded by Harris County elections officers within the leadup to the 2020 election, when the workplace obtained “a number of voter roll challenges” concentrating on roughly 4,000 voters, Shah stated.

That yr, Vera challenged the registrations of 4,037 voters who listed submit workplaces, parcel tales or different locations of enterprise as their tackle.

State legislation requires voters to record their residence tackle on their registrations, however says anybody who challenges a registration will need to have private information that it’s inaccurate. The county lawyer rejected all of Vera’s challenges, arguing he couldn’t probably know every of the 4,037 voters on his record.

Sunnyside, the world canvassed by Texas Election Community volunteers earlier this yr, is a predominantly minority lower-income neighborhood in south Houston during which 75 % of residents are Black and one other 20 % are Hispanic, in line with 2019 knowledge from town.

The affidavits submitted to the elections workplace goal a variety of neighborhoods throughout Harris County, from Cypress and Spring to Baytown and the Cloverleaf/Channelview space. Different neighborhoods embrace Midtown, Aldine, Northline and Lazybrook/Timbergrove.

Those that submitted the affidavits embrace Randy Orr, a 2018 Republican nominee for a Texas Senate seat in Harris County; Bergundi Cain, spouse of state Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park; and Carla Richburg, a Harris County Republican Celebration precinct chair who earlier this yr proposed several resolutions to the party platform that drew scorn from fellow Republicans, together with a proposal to contemplate all Chinese language nationals as spies and take away them from the nation.

Harris County Democratic Celebration Chair Odus Evbagharu stated these difficult the voter rolls had been utilizing “concern ways and coming after election directors and election employees who work actually onerous to be sure that we’ve got a free and protected and honest election.”

“We’re for transparency and accountability in authorities. We’re by no means going to run from that,” Evbagharu stated. “The factor that is working right here, although, is that there is a number of of us feeding into QAnon conspiracies, which are nonetheless feeding into the ‘Massive Lie,’ looking for issues that are not there. It’s individuals who have simply fed into these MAGA Republican lies.”

The problem arose this week in a candidate discussion board between Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger Lesley Briones.

“There have been over 100 affidavits which have been submitted by Harris County residents to take away round 6,000 voters from the rolls,” the moderator stated. “The place do you stand on honoring the election outcomes?”

Neither candidate instantly addressed the affidavits. Briones stated she stands “behind the election outcomes right here in Harris County, in Texas and our presidential election” and believes “deeply within the peaceable transition of energy.”

Cagle, in the meantime, centered on the county’s latest election administration woes, together with a day-long delay in reporting the results of the March primaries and the discovery of an additional 10,000 mail-in ballots almost every week after the polls closed. He didn’t instantly tackle the query about “honoring the election outcomes.”

“There are two points right here,” Cagle stated. “One is the nationwide problem, to which I’m not going to reply … apart from saying we’ve had a change of workplace and we’ve acquired one other election that is arising quickly.”


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