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Texas, I Voted
Photo credit: Steve Rainwater /Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Texas attorney general’s office used a legal maneuver to keep in place SB 1750, a law that would eliminate the election administrator position in Houston.

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Just hours after it was deemed to be unconstitutional and disruptive to this year’s election, the Texas attorney general’s office used a legal maneuver to keep in place SB 1750, a law that would eliminate the election administrator position in Houston.

WhoWhatWhy readers may recall that we flagged this law last month as a blatant — and somewhat clumsy — attempt to disrupt the administration of elections in Harris County, which is the most populous county in Texas as well as a Democratic stronghold.

As such, it has been a target for Texas Republicans who want to make sure their state stays ruby red.

SB 1750 is part of that strategy. The law abolishes the position of election administrator “in certain counties.” Election administrators are nonpartisan officials who help to make sure that elections are running smoothly.

Therefore, it already didn’t make sense to eliminate that position… unless you have an interest in making elections more chaotic.

What really made SB 1750 such a blatant attempt to undermine election integrity was that it was tailored to only apply to counties with a population greater than 3.5 million people as of September 1 of this year.

As it so happens, Harris County is the only county that fits that description. That means SB 1750 was written with the sole intent of eliminating the election administrator position there, which seems like an illegal act of election interference.

On Monday, Travis County District Judge Karin Crump agreed with that assessment, declared the law unconstitutional, and issued a temporary injunction against it.

In her ruling, Crump said the classification of where SB 1750 was supposed to apply was “unreasonable, arbitrary, and simply a means of singling out one county for special treatment and attempting to regulate how Harris County, to the exclusion of all other counties in the state, manages voter registration and elections.”

She also noted that Clifford Tatum, the current election administrator, is a “non-partisan professional trained in managing all aspects of the elections process with over twenty years of experience at both state and county levels.”

Transferring his job to someone else at this stage, less than three months ahead of this year’s election, would not only “lead to inefficiencies, disorganization, confusion, office instability, and increased costs to Harris County, but it will also disrupt an election that the Harris County EA [elections administrator] has been planning for months.”

However, it seems that these are exactly the types of outcomes Texas Republicans hope for, which is why they appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.

“SB 1750 was signed into law this year after Harris County experienced multiple problems administering its elections, an issue that puts the integrity of Texas elections at risk and can undermine public trust in the political system by endangering the critical guarantee that every vote will be fairly counted,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement that makes no secret of the intended target of the law.

And, because this appeal is staying the judge’s decision pending a decision by the state’s Supreme Court, SB 1750 is still slated to go into effect on September 1.

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