An erroneous decision to suspend the registration of over a thousand voters could impact an election in the state’s largest county.
Harris County Tax Assessor and Voter Registrar Ann Harris Bennett, a Democrat, has sent out suspension notices to over a thousand Harris County voters, causing confusion among Houston-area voters as they are set to consider a $2.5 billion flood control bond election.
Harris County voters who decide to submit absentee ballots while on a suspense without a statement of residence card with their ballots will not be counted.
Assistant County Attorney Douglas Ray told the Houston Chronicle that voters placed on the suspension list will be purged from the rolls if they have not responded to letters from the county and failed to vote in two consecutive federal elections.
While Bennett initially blamed Republicans after the error for the ensuing confusion, she later admitted that there was “no evidence to support her claim” and it shouldn’t be interpreted as a “statement of fact.” Bennett now blames the mistake on a computer glitch, claiming that the 1,735 suspended registrations have been fixed.
Those actions drew the criticism of State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), who himself held the position of Harris County Tax Assessor for over a decade. According to Bettencourt, Bennett has suspended eligible voters while also failing to remove felons and non-citizens from the voter rolls.
“The integrity of the voter roll is paramount because without it the public can question the results of any election,” said Bettencourt (R-Houston) in a press release. “These actions are undermining the integrity of the Harris County voter roll, which is not only the largest in the state of Texas, but the very fabric of our election process, and it must stop!”
This comes after Bennett said that she was under no obligation to remove non-citizens under the National Voter Registration Act resulting from a push from the Public Interest Legal Foundation to clean up voter rolls after a June election.
Registered voters in Harris County concerned about their vote, should contact the office number of Ann Harris Bennett at 713-274-8000.