Houston, TX – Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) hosted a press conference with the House Elections Committee Chair, Representative Reggie Smith (R-Sherman) Senate State Affairs Committee Chair, Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Tyler), Representative Charles Cunningham (R-Kingwood), Representative Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress), Representative Lacey Hull (R-Jersey Village), Representative Valoree Swanson (R-Spring), Representative Mano DeAyala (R-Houston), and Representative Mike Schofield (R-Katy) on Friday, September 1, 2023, to discuss the impact his major election integrity bills SB 1933 & SB 1750 that went into effect September 1, 2023 because of 2022 election fiascos in Harris County.
“These bills have always been about performance not politics,” stated Senator Bettencourt. “If government says you’re going to have an election and you walk into that election booth and you don’t have ballot paper out of the warehouse and people have to be turned away, that’s voter suppression.” He added.
“At the start of the Session we came together with a plan and said, ‘Help is on the way.’ Well today, 9/1, help is here in the form of election integrity!” Exclaimed Representative Cunningham.
During the 2022 primary election the first appointed EA “found” 10,000 votes and released a statement at 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday night that led to her resignation. Then on November 8, 2022, Harris County’s second appointed EA failed to deliver enough paper ballot sheets to allegedly 120 voting centers despite having millions of paper ballots available for distribution in an EA office warehouse.
“Today we speak for the people of Texas and they want to have clear, understandable and fair rules for administration election and they want their votes to count, making it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” stated Senator Hughes, Chairman of the Senate Committee on State Affairs.
Senate Bill 1933 is the first ever Secretary of State oversight law for those involved in the election process (a candidate, county chair or state chair of a political party, presiding judge, alternate presiding judge, or head of a specific-purpose political committee) to file a complaint to the Secretary of State’s office about reoccurring election irregularities in Harris County. If the Secretary of State establishes that there is in fact a reoccurring pattern with election issues, then SB 1933 sets up the protocols for an oversight period by the Secretary of State’s office and other remedies. SB 1750 returns power and duties of the Harris County Elections Administrator to the County Clerk and County Tax Assessor-Collector. Under SB 1750, the election administration duties will revert to the County Clerk and the County Tax Assessor-Collector will serve as the voter registrar.
“The public has to have confidence in the elections of its large counties. Texas has to have Harris County have confident elections,” Representative Reggie Smith, Chairman of the House Elections Committee said.
Despite the frivolous lawsuit by Harris County rejected by the Supreme Court, SB 1750 is in effect. “Harris County wasn’t too big to fail, but it was too big to ignore,” concluded Senator Bettencourt.