Texas House Passes Bills Targeting Harris County, Undermining Voters’ Choices

AUSTIN—  As the Texas legislature nears the end of its session, House lawmakers passed several election-related bills that will harm Texas voters Tuesday, including a measure that allows for a state takeover of the election office in the state’s largest county. 

Among the bills passed by the House are: 

  • Senate Bill 1933,  a dangerous elections bill that would allow the Texas Secretary of State’s Office to take over & conduct unprecedented oversight of the administration for Harris County’s elections officials, formerly a statewide impact. 
  • Senate Bill 1070, which would let Texas contract with a yet-to-be-identified vendor to check voter registration eligibility and leave ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center that has helped election administrators in several states keep up-to-date and accurate voter registration lists.  
  • Senate Bill 1750, a bill seeking to abolish the Harris County Election Administrator’s Office, making Harris County, home to Houston, the only large metropolitan county in Texas to not have elections administrators run their local elections office.

SB 1750 will head to the governor for his signature while SB 1933 and SB 1070 need to have amendments added on during this week’s debate agreed upon by the Senate before becoming law.

Also today, the Texas Senate is scheduled to vote on House Bill 1243 a voting criminalization bill that will make it a felony punishable for up to 20 years in prison for those who may make simple or unintended mistakes while casting a ballot, with a lowered intent standard to enable the criminalization of mistakes. 

“Important guardrails were added to the House bills during last night’s debate that mitigate the worst effects, but passage of these anti-voter bills show that the focus of the Texas legislature has been to create unnecessary restrictions and dilute the power of votes – in particular of Houston-area voters,” said Katya Ehresman, voting rights program manager for Common Cause Texas. 

“Our democracy works when we all have an opportunity to vote and every vote is counted,” Ehresman said. “But Texas lawmakers are clearly afraid of that reality, which is why we see them so focused this legislative session on carving out a way for the state to take over the election administration of our largest county and enabling the state’s restriction of access to the ballot for many Texans.” 

Common Cause Texas staff are available for media interviews.