Austin, TX – Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) passed SB 1910 out of the Texas Senate, 24-7 to deny County officials from using the litigation exception in the Texas Public Information Act through the Texas Attorney General’s office to delay releasing election records on public information requests.
“One of the most frustrating aspects of the November 8th election fiasco in Harris County, is the refusal of Elections Administrator Tatum and County Judge Hidalgo to answer questions about what went wrong on November 8th, 2022,” said Senator Bettencourt. “In fact, Harris County used the Public Information litigation exemption to try and stop multiple open records requests from the public for election records. The Texas Attorney General’s office denied their request on March 29, 2023, but this litigation exemption should have never been there in the first place, as election records are truly public records.” He added.
Harris County’s recent elections were filled with major election irregularities causing a lack of public confidence in the results. Votes were discovered after polls closed, polling locations opened late, voting equipment malfunctioned, and in the 2022 General Election, over 120 voting centers didn’t receive enough ballot paper, according to a report by KHOU 11. “The botched elections culminated with a record 21 election contests being filed in Harris County and thousands of voters turned away from the polls.” Stated Senator Bettencourt.
Wanting to simply find out what actually happened during the November election in Harris County, Houston native, Jim McIngvale, known as “Mattress” Mack and Wayne Dolcefino filed a lawsuit against Harris County’s elections office for information. According to Mr. McIngvale and Mr. Dolcefino, they tried six times to get public information from Harris County about the election and were denied each time. The Elections Administrator’s Office claimed that they couldn’t release any public records by claiming the litigation exception, which delays releasing the records to the public by seeking a Texas attorney general opinion whether or not to produce documents. However, Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R-Texas) Office ruled that Harris County must release the election records requested by Mr. McIngvale and Mr. Dolcefino. Mr. McIngvale applauded the work of Sen. Bettencourt and SB 1910 on keeping Texas elections transparent for the public.
“Thanks to Sen. Paul Bettencourt for his outstanding work in Austin on Voter record public open record requests!!! Paul is shining light on Texas elections so Texas elections can forever be open & transparent for all Texans. Thanks Paul for your leadership & advocacy in Austin benefiting all TEXAS citizens.” Exclaimed Houston businessman, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale.
Senator Bettencourt expects to pass more election transparency and voter integrity bills out of the Texas Senate in the coming weeks.