Texas Bill Would Allow Secretary of State to Redo Elections

Signs which will be posted at Harris County polling sites are lined up at election headqua
David J. Phillip/AP

The Texas Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would give the Secretary of State — a position appointed by the Governor — the authority to redo elections in counties where paper ballot shortages were recorded in two percent of polling places.

Senate Bill 1993 would only apply to counties with over 2.7 million people — essentially targeting Harris County. Home to Houston, the county is the third largest in the country with just a little under five million residents, as the Census Bureau notes.

In the past few election cycles, Harris County has gained more Democrat voters.

During the 2022 midterm election, Republican candidate for Harris County judge Alexandra del Moral Mealer received $9 million in contributions from July to November in her attempt to unseat Judge Lina Hidalgo (D), the Texas Tribune reports. Mealer lost the election by less than 20,000 votes in her bid for a seat which was in Republican control before the 2018 election.

Accusations of election mismanagement during the 2022 midterms led the Harris County Republican Party to sue the county and election administrator Clifford Tatum. Mealer challenged her election in January.

A Houston Chronicle investigation found during last year’s midterms that workers from 20 polling locations said they ran out of paper ballots for varying periods of times, and over half were in Republican-leaning areas.

The Harris County Election Administration Office could not determine if the incidents led to “voters being turned away,” wrote NBC News in an analysis of the county’s election assessment.

NBC News reports that a co-sponsor of the bill, State Sen. Mayes Middleton (R), said during a speech on the Senate floor on Monday that the bill would be “an important accountability tool.”

“We had 253 counties that had no issues, really, with ballot paper,” Middleton said. “We had one that did,” Middleton said.

In opposition to the bill, State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt (D) said that a redo election could cost taxpayers millions, NBC News reports.

“I completely agree that no polling place should run out of paper,” Eckhardt said. “But the bill has no requirement that the blunder must have had, or even probably had, any effect on the outcome of the election.”


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