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January 3rd, 2022:

Interview with Nam Subramanian

Nam Subramanian

We are now at the start of interview season. I began running the judicial Q&A responses last week, and this week I will begin running interviews with candidates in contested Democratic primaries. Lots of candidates, lots of races, not much time – you know the drill. I’m still mapping out what races I will try to cover, so bear with me. If there’s a must-have for you, please do let me know.

This week I’ll be focusing on HD147, the primary to nominate a successor to Rep. Garnet Coleman, who will be retiring after a distinguished 30-year career. First up is Nam Subramanian, who was the first candidate to file for this race, before Rep. Coleman’s retirement announcement. Nam is a high school teacher, working on her master’s in education from Johns Hopkins University. She would claim the title of youngest member of the State House if elected. Here’s what we talked about:

As with the judicial Q&A’s, more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet. I will periodically round up the links to these posts as well.

Judicial Q&A: Judge Tristan Longino

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Judge Tristan Longino

1. Who are you and in which court do you preside?

Tristan Harris Longino, 245th District Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

Family law (Divorce, Parent-Child Relationship, Protective Orders where court has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over a child or dominant jurisdiction through a pending divorce).

3. What have been your main accomplishments during your time on this bench?

a. First family court to implement online scheduling (created myself as the county did not yet have any pilot program available) to allow litigants and counsel to conveniently pick settings that worked with their schedules and free up staff time (otherwise spent on the phone and e-mail responding to scheduling requests) for other responsibilities to increase court efficiency.

b. Eliminated trial dockets which were an inefficient use of court’s resources and litigants’ money and attorneys’ time (sitting through large dockets being called to hear other’s announcements without knowing if the court could have time to reach you if you were ready for trial).

c. Implemented a number of policies, such as prove-up of agreed divorces/orders by affidavit or unsworn declaration without the need to appear in person (saved litigants time & money), creating a submission docket where non-evidentiary matters were required set by submission (increasing court availability for evidentiary hearings like temporary orders and trial settings), etc. A number of these policies were adopted by the other family courts at the outset of the pandemic as they allowed cases to progress while the family bar/litigants/the courts ibecame familiar with Zoom for remote hearings.

d. Second highest rated presiding judge on 2021 evaluation by our local bar association (https://www.hba.org/docDownload/1871299).

e. Highest clearance rate in 2021 and second lowest docket size in family division (excluding the 507th as that is a more recently created court with a smaller docket as a consequence of having fewer post-judgment cases) (https://www.justex.net/dashboard/Family).

f. Have continued to conduct many proceedings by Zoom due to efficiencies created by medium (reduced travel time means less time off work and elimination of unproductive billing time for travel, increased participation in the process by parents navigating protective service cases, etc.) combined with increased safety for participants involved during multiple waves of ongoing pandemic while continuing to ensure the court remains open to the public by streaming proceedings.

g. Coordinated with two other family courts in the county (who also implemented online scheduling) to adopt joint policies to try and move toward simplifying practice by attorneys in Harris County by having shared policies between those three courts.

4. What do you hope to accomplish in your courtroom going forward?

Continue to look for opportunities to innovate to increase efficiency and access to the court to ensure litigants can have their disputes disposed of timely.

5. Why is this race important?

To quote my predecessor, the Hon. Roy Moore, from our endorsement interview with the Houston Chronicle in 2018, family courts have “power over property, people, and liberty.” I think anyone would agree it’s important to have a jurist on the bench who knows the law, will apply it fairly to the facts, and work diligently to get matters heard and out of litigation so litigants are not kept hostage in an expensive and emotionally toxic process longer than necessary.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I’m experienced (I’m a board certified family lawyer and will have four years on the bench) and have brought innovation to the courts that have increased efficiency while reducing barriers to access. Read more about what I’ve done and why I’m running again at www.longinoforjudge.com.

Fraudit fizzling

Who could have ever predicted this would be a big ol’ nothingburger?

The Texas secretary of state’s office has released the first batch of results from its review into the 2020 general election, finding few issues despite repeated, unsubstantiated claims by GOP leaders casting doubts on the integrity of the electoral system.

The first phase of the review, released New Year’s Eve, highlighted election data from four counties — Harris, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin — that showed few discrepancies between electronic and hand counts of ballots in a sample of voting precincts. Those partial manual counts made up a significant portion of the results produced by the secretary of state, which largely focused on routine voter roll maintenance and post-election processes that were already in place before the state launched what it has labeled as a “full forensic audit.”

On Friday, Samuel Taylor, a spokesperson with the secretary of state’s office, said the review was needed “to provide clarity on what issues need to be resolved for the next elections.”

But Remi Garza, president of the Texas Association of Election Administrators, said there wasn’t anything in the review’s first set of results that raised any alarms for him.

“There doesn’t seem to be anything too far out of the ordinary with respect to the information that’s provided,” said Garza, who serves as the election administrator in Cameron County. “… I hope nobody draws any strong conclusions one way or the other with respect to the information that’s been provided. I think it’s just very straightforward, very factual and will ultimately play a part in the final conclusions that are drawn once the second phase is completed.”

According to the state’s review of the counties’ partial manual counts, which they are already required to conduct under state law, there were few differences between electronic and manual ballot tallies — and counties were able to justify those inconsistencies.

See here for the previous update. Boy, nothing says “we want people to see this news” like putting out a press release on the Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend. In each case cited here, there was a literal handful of vote count differences, and the reason each of the tiny discrepancies was already known. And this is in four counties that totaled over four million ballots cast in 2020. It’s hard to imagine a cleaner or clearer result.

The state’s progress report for phase one of its audit also included data related to regular maintenance of the state’s massive list of registered voters — it surpassed 16.9 million in November 2020 — that goes beyond its four-county review. But some of the figures highlighted by the state either appear to be faulty or remain unverified.

For example, the secretary of state’s office noted it had sent counties a list of 11,737 records of registered voters it deemed “possible non-U.S. citizens.” But the Tribune previously reported that scores of citizens, including many who registered to vote at their naturalization ceremonies, were marked for review.

Although it has yet to finish investigating the records, the state also included an unverified figure of 509 voter records — about 0.0045% of the 11.3 million votes cast in November 2020 — in which a voter may have cast a vote in Texas and another state or jurisdiction. The state said the work of reviewing those records to eliminate those that were “erroneously matched” because of data issues wouldn’t be completed until January.

The state also highlighted the investigation of 67 votes — about 0.0006% of the votes cast in the 2020 general election — cast by “potentially deceased voters.” This review also has not been completed.

In its report, the secretary of state emphasized that the removal of ineligible or deceased voters from the voter rolls “in and of itself does not indicate that any illegal votes were cast.”

What they almost always find in the latter case is that the voter died after their vote had been cast. In a state with millions of people, that sort of thing happens. I would expect that in most of the former cases, closer inspection shows that the votes in question were actually cast by different people. Accurate name-matching is a tricky business. As for the “non-citizen voter purges” the state regularly tries and fails to do with any accuracy, well, just keep that in mind whenever the state of Texas or any of its officials make claims about voting irregularities. The motivation to find bad things blinds them to such a degree that any bad things they find are inherently tainted by the nature of their search. Only by removing that motivation, and thus enforcing a careful and deliberate process, can any claims be considered credible.