Following Tuesday’s resignation of embattled Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria (effective July 1), the Harris County Republican Party is pushing forward today with its lawsuit calling for independent oversight of key elections in May.
At a press conference Wednesday morning ahead of an emergency court hearing, party officials also revealed they’d just found another 175 ballots from Election Day that had not been counted, and they’re also asking the court to be able to count votes from those ballots.
“The Harris County Republican Party is going to take every step possible to protect the Harris County voters,” HCRP Chairman Cindy Siegel said.
Two more elections are scheduled before Longoria’s announced resignation date: May 7 local elections (which also include two statewide ballot propositions and a state House special election) and May 24 primary runoffs.
“Without independent oversight, these elections are at risk,” State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–Houston) said at Wednesday’s press conference, adding that both Republicans and Democrats have “had enough.”
“I’ve never seen an elections administrator allowed after an abysmal failure of this magnitude. And yet, that person’s going to stay another nearly four months,” he said.
Longoria was a partisan appointee chosen by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and her Democrat-dominated county election commission (made up of the county judge, county clerk, tax assessor, and chairs of the county’s Democrat and Republican parties) in late 2020, even though Longoria had no experience running elections.
Longoria’s appointment came after the commissioners court hastily voted on party lines to move election management and voter registration duties from the elected county clerk and tax assessor into a single office headed by an appointed elections administrator.
In yesterday’s Harris County Commissioners Court meeting, Hidalgo and Democrat Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia voted against returning election-related responsibilities to the elected county clerk and tax assessor.
Hidalgo’s team must now search for someone new to run elections in the largest county in the state, with 2.5 million registered voters.
In the meantime, HCRP attorney Steven Mitby says he’s confident the court will see what a disaster the primaries were under Longoria and provide independent oversight of upcoming May elections.