Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis did not mince words with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday.
The indicted state attorney general recently sent a letter to Harris County informing them that the newly created office of Harris County Election Administrator does not exist. The office was created in July to consolidate the duties of the county clerk and the tax collector’s office, which have historically handled election-related duties.
Paxton’s letter argues that the county violated Texas election code by creating the office without the proper timing and without appropriately informing the Texas Secretary of State. Paxton said Harris County had two weeks to rescind the appointment of Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria before his office would take action.
Ellis, who played a leading role in the creation of the county’s new elections office, said Paxton’s legal letter was another example of an assault on voting rights.
“Attorney General Paxton’s pronouncement that ‘the Harris County Office of Election Administrator does not exist’ and calling Administrator Longoria’s appointment void over administrative technicalities is just another blatant attempt to continue his assault on Texas voters,” Ellis said, vowing that the process to create the office would be seen to completion.
“Harris County voters deserve for us to move away from the Jim Crow era system of the past, for us to invest in our elections and voter registration, and for us to do everything we can to expand access to the ballot box,” Ellis said.
Harris County tapped Longoria earlier this year to run the new office. The office’s website is already up and running, with information about voting by mail and polling locations. So far, Harris County Commissioners Court seems unmoved by Paxton’s legal threats.
Until this year, Harris County was one of the few remaining counties in the state that split their election duties between two offices.
Photos: Harris County Precint One/ Office of the Texas Attorney General,
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org