Republicans refuse to try to win elections fairly in Harris County, and District 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis is calling out their voter suppression strategy. Commissioner Ellis pushed back hard on the latest scheme by Attorney General Ken Paxton (who is currently under felony indictment and is being investigated by the FBI for bribery) and exposed the GOP’s real intent.
“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,” said Ellis.
Paxton & Abbott Push Voter Suppression
Paxton and Governor Greg Abbott have repeatedly used their offices to push legal efforts to suppress voting in Harris County and undermine the progressive actions led by Commissioner Ellis and other Harris County elected officials.
For over a decade now, Democrats in Harris County have conducted smart, methodical county-wide campaigns using effective organizing, messaging and targeting—leading to steady electoral gains. Democrats began winning in 2008, and since 2016, Democrats have won every single contested county-wide office in Harris. Rodney Ellis won his District 1 Commissioners seat in 2016 and is now the senior member of a Democratic majority on the Commissioners Court after being joined by County Judge Lina Hidalgo and District 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia.
Throughout the 2020 election, Paxton and Abbott tried to undermine voting in Harris by either filing legal challenges themselves or tacitly supporting lawsuits intended to undermine voter participation. The new expanded voting opportunities in Harris all stem from authorization by Ellis, Hidalgo, and Garcia and were expertly carried out by Democratic County Clerk Chris Hollins.
Time and again, though, Paxton and Abbott have been turned back empty handed, but that has not stopped them.
Paxton Tries to Undermine Fair Elections and Local Control
Ken Paxton’s attempted technical challenge to the authority of the Harris County Commissioners Court to appoint a dedicated Elections Administrator which will further streamline and improve voter registration and election in the County is an obvious effort to throw sand in the gears of county elections departments who are running smoother and are providing easier access to voting by eligible citizens.
Harris County a Crucial Battleground
Harris County is a key battleground in Texas going forward. Greg Abbott, Ken Paxton and other Texas Republicans know increased voter participation in Harris County means more losses for the GOP. However, instead of responding by working to win the support of new voters in Harris, they have adopted the strategy to undermine and suppress voter participation. Ellis and Democrats are taking the opposite approach – acknowledging diversity and meeting needs to win the support of new voters.
Ellis continues to be a central figure in the fight to stop oppressive, regressive and racist policies put in place by conservatives for generations. “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.