The Republican attack on Harris County voting

It’s straight up retaliation for Harris County getting positive national attention for going out of its way to make it easier to vote in 2020.

Harris County made a big push to expand mail-in and early voting during the 2020 election, offering options never before seen in Texas such as 24-hour polling places and drive-thru voting.

Republicans in the Legislature are now moving to make sure it never happens again, targeting the county with sweeping voting restrictions they hope to enact ahead of the 2022 midterm elections that they say are necessary to prevent voter fraud.

A priority Senate bill filed this week would prohibit local election officials from sending out mail ballot applications to voters who have not requested them, another step Harris County pioneered during the 2020 election. The bill would also ban certain early voting opportunities, including drive-thru voting and early voting before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m.

The goal of Senate Bill 7 is “to make sure that the election process is fair and, equally important, to make sure that Texans know it’s fair,” said bill author Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola. “As people lose faith in the process, as people don’t think their vote is going to be counted accurately or doubt whether the process is secure, they’re going to be discouraged, they’re going to be less likely to vote.”

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the voting methods targeted by Senate Republicans in the bill resulted in higher turnout among voters of both parties in the county, adding that it saddens her to see any proposals to limit voting and make access to the ballot box a partisan issue.

“The proposed voting restrictions in SB7 are political theater that sadly harms voters of both parties,” Hidalgo said. “Policies grounded in the Big Lie — the falsehood that mass voter fraud exists — are wrong and only harm our democracy.”

Former County Clerk Chris Hollins, who enacted all the get-out-the-vote measures in 2020, said the bill was “certainly targeted at Harris County in particular.” He noted that over 100,000 voters used drive-thru voting last year and 10,000 took advantage of extended polling hours, and not all were Democrats.

Republicans are “trying to make sure that those people do not cast votes in the future,” Hollins said. While election administrators “come up with innovative ways to better serve voters … Republicans are doing everything that they can to disenfranchise voters.”

See here for the previous post on this topic. Look, we all know the arguments for these new restrictions are bullshit. Republicans scream about “voter fraud” and “election integrity” because it’s what they do. It doesn’t matter that people who voted Republican also took advantage of these opportunities, the point is that they originated in a Democratic county by Democratic officials and on balance they benefited Democratic voters more because there were more Democratic voters to begin with.

You can sign up to testify against these bills, and if you are someone who used drive through voting or overnight voting or know someone who did I’d encourage you or them to testify. It won’t change anything, but you can at least make the Republicans who want to make it harder for you to hear your story. The one thing we can do is win enough elections in 2022 and beyond to begin to remove these needless burdens on voting. (Remember, “Making It Easier To Vote” is one of my 2022 campaign planks.) The federal legislation that has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate if enough Democratic Senators decide that keeping the filibuster as is does not and should not give Republicans a total veto over their agenda would help, as it would require laws like these to go through preclearance, where they would surely fail. Republicans are making it harder for you to vote because they can. Until they lose that power, they will continue to exercise it.

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14 Responses to The Republican attack on Harris County voting

  1. Manny says:

    Have no idea how the bill, if passed, will affect voting in Harris County, but preliminary studies have indicated that such laws have a larger effect on Republican voters.

  2. voter_worker says:

    “The proposed voting restrictions in SB7 are political theater that sadly harms voters of both parties,” Hidalgo said.

    These changes will have a minimal effect on the voting population of Harris County because the motivation for the expansion, namely the pandemic, will no longer be present and Harris County voters will return to the situation they had pre-pandemic, which had gotten vastly better because of the implementation of voting centers by County Clerk Diane Trautman and Harris County. Two other developments in the “vast improvement” category are the creation of the Elections Administrator office and the impending rollout of a new generation of voting devices that will combine machine-generated paper ballots with optical scanning. So in my opinion we are looking at net gains even with the impending contractions, and the Rs have given the Ds yet another issue to use to motivate their voters, if they didn’t already have enough of those. Bonus: theoretically this will take the steam out of the Rs incessant moaning about election fraud because it can be countered with the strong argument that they now have the system exactly as they want it, so why are you still lying about nonexistant fraud?

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    I would think that one day, called Election Day, would suffice. The Democrat party is a cynical operation that wants to mail ballots to people who don’t request them, who, according to luminaries like Pres. Biden, are not smart enough to operate a computer and request a ballot. And also people who can’t on their own learn about use of masks to control the spread of respiratory viruses and make their own decisions about if or when to use such a mask. But, the party somehow thinks that these folks are able to learn about candidates and current events and make intelligent decisions at the ballot box.

  4. voter_worker says:

    Thinking of a possible future, just imagine the day when the Texas Legislature is more enlightened than it is today, and we will have automatic voter registration, election day registration for anyone who fell through the cracks of automatic registration, full no-excuse mail voting and smart phone apps/online functionality with which we can manage updates to our voter registration account and other interactions with the EA and SOS. Maybe we could even fill out and submit the mail ballot request form online and skip the USPS back and forth altogether? That would be revolutionary!

  5. Bill Daniels says:


    Automatic voter registration (based on DMV or other public databases) is fraught with problems. It automatically swoops up people whose status does not qualify them to vote, as in those on felony probation or parole, it swoops up people here legally with visas or green cards who are not eligible, and might, depending on the database(s) used, swoop up people here illegally, since full on illegal aliens have ITIN numbers and even real Social Security numbers (the DACA illegals, for example). It also can lead to people being registered at multiple addresses. Did you move and forget to notify the voter registrar of the old county that you left? Seems likely.

    As to no excuse vote by mail, there’s just no valid reason to do that. Yes, I get that there are a few states that totally vote by mail, but we are not those states, we are Texas, and Texas has managed to vote in person all these years just fine. We currently have two weeks of 12 hour/day early voting, including a Saturday, all before election day. Show me anyone who just happens to work the exact 72 hours a week, or exact 60 hours a week that coincides with the early voting times, then, show me the employer of that person that won’t give the legally mandated time off to vote on election day. I want to meet that person; I want to hear that person’s story.

    As Kuff’s article correctly points out, the one-off Wu flu panic won’t be an excuse forever. Don’t fix what ain’t broke.

    Having said all that, full disclosure: I voted during the EXTRA week of early voting last go round. Hopefully there isn’t a 3rd week going forward….two weeks is more than enough. Heck, one week of early voting is plenty. Stretching it out and doing all the other crazy stuff proffered here just adds unnecessary costs to the taxpayers, and isn’t demonstrating good fiduciary responsibility. Harris County made elections a nationally televised circus, meanwhile, the streets in Harris County resemble those of a 3rd World country.

    I wonder if Collins got a sweetheart deal from Big Alignment Shop, to divert money from fixing streets to a cumbersome and expensive voting circus?

  6. Manny says:

    Bill, for someone that lives in a small city, where there aren’t that many people in the county you live in, you sure have a lot of advice for those that live in Houston, and Harris County.

    Brazoria County, population 374,000.

    Harris County, population 4.713 million.

    Now it is possible that you lied about where you reside, as you lie about almost everything.

    I have waited hours to vote during presidential years.

  7. voter_worker says:

    Bill, you know more about street trees than you know about voter registration and the nuts and bolts of election administration. The first paragraph of this piece about automatic registration from the Brennan Center speaks to the eligibility issue. And, no excuse mail voting is not the equivalent of the all-mail elections that are run by only a few states, although all of those states do still provide in-person voting places. One of those states is that reddest of the reds, Utah. I will never understand many R’s susceptibility to propaganda from the fear mongers who use people’s ignorance to further their agendas, when one of the proudest red states has been demonstrating for over a decade that it’s all lies.

  8. Bill Daniels says:


    Many of our founding fathers noted that our “constitutional republic, if we can keep it,” is designed for a moral, Christian society. It isn’t designed to work when the majority of Americans are amoral at best, Godless and immoral at worst. I suspect that bright red Utah, whatever one may think of Mormonism, is predominantly made up of intrinsically moral people, although that does not explain them electing pond scum like Mittens Romney.

    No excuse mail in voting, especially without signature match, is an excellent way to ballot harvest, which is illegal in Texas. All I’d have to do is get a list of people on the rolls who haven’t voted in a while, apply for mail in ballots for them, without their permission, then go around collecting them, filling them out the way I deem they should be filled out. And this works best in non white areas of town, where the ballots can either be purchased, or obtained by coercion, by ballot harvesters.

    “Hi, I’m here to collect your mail in ballot! No? Gee, sure would be a shame if something bad happened to you if you fail to hand it over right now.” Alternatively, “We’re offering $ 25 in cash or gift card to Applebees as a reward for your civic duty in turning over your ballot to me.”

    Bottom line, stop looking for ways to encourage fraud. You’ll note, for example, all the Medicare fraud we have in Houston. Do they have a significant amount of that in Utah?

    As to the link, being offered the “opportunity” to opt out of being automatically registered to vote is a cop out, unless you’re going to go all the way with the streamlining, and compare registrations to lists of people who are “on paper,” i.e. on parole or probation, people who are not citizens, etc. Seems like Texas got sued to NOT be able to “clean up” voter rolls by booting folks who weren’t eligible to vote from the rolls. Why would anyone oppose making sure that people signed up to vote actually ARE eligible to vote? Think about who benefits from unqualified people voting… ain’t the Republicans, it’s the party of crime, the D’s.

  9. Manny says:

    Bill, you dang fascists do know how to tell lies.

    Some of them may have called themselves Christians, but that does not make them Christians.

    They were slave owners.

    They believed women were chattel.

    They believed only white men with property should vote.

    Most believed in the annihilation of the Native Americans.

    That is what you fascists always resort to, some make-believe bs, in this case, fatherly attributes of the founding male white figures.

    Voting in those years was;

  10. Jen says:

    Gosh, who woulda thunk it? White Supremacist BS Bill says voting by mail is OK in Utah becuz he suspects everyone there is white. Although there isn’t any voter fraud in Texas, if there was any it would be the colored people that done it. And the Ds are the party of crime, cuz you know, colored ppl.

  11. voter_worker says:

    Bill, your plan to commit mail ballot fraud is full of holes, and you’d soon be in a legal pickle. Nobody is proposing any form of mail voting without signature verification. Utah’s people are just as prone to moral foibles as anyone else, but they have produced a mutant wing of the GOP that is devoted to their people’s well-being, not something I’d say about the GOP of any other state. You must know that’s true since you couldn’t resist getting in a dig at Sen. Romney.

  12. Jeff says:

    I work in O&G and last years presidential election was by far the easiest for me to participate. I travel outside of Harris county for 2-3 weeks for work depending on the job so having time to vote is difficult. Last year I was able to do drive-thru voting with all my laptops and test equipment for work.

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