Politics

A Republican Harris County commissioner voted against certifying the 2021 election results

Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey was the lone “no” vote.

Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey

Harris County leaders voted to confirm the results of the most recent election on Monday — with the exception of one Republican.

Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey was the lone “no” vote on a measure to certify the results of the Nov. 2 election.

Citing “grave concerns” that included delays in election night results and a lack of equipment familiarity, Ramsey said he wanted an independent audit of the process.

“This was a very small (turnout) election,” Ramsey said. “We’ve got some big elections coming up next year. We’ve got the primary likely in March, and we’ve got, of course, November 2022, and we just have to make sure that everything is as it should be.”

Republican Commissioner Jack Cagle of Precinct 4 joined the three Democrats on Commissioners Court to vote “yes” on confirming the results.

The state has already announced it would review this year’s early voting returns in Harris County, which Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria said were delayed because of a power outage at the central count location. The Texas Secretary of State’s Office said it would “work to ensure that all ballots were handled appropriately and counted validly.”

The 2021 election was an off-year cycle, with no major candidates on the ballot. Voters did approve eight constitutional amendments, including one that would ban local governments from suspending religious services during an emergency.

But Ramsey's vote against certifying the results comes amid increased polarization among political parties over the validity of elections, despite no proof of widespread voter fraud.

Former President Donald Trump publicly called for an audit into Texas’ 2021 election results, insisting for months without evidence that widespread voter fraud cost him the election. Hours after Trump’s statements, the Texas Secretary of State’s Office did open an audit into Harris and three other counties — Dallas, Tarrant and Collin. All but Collin County voted for Joe Biden.

In September, Ramsey and Cagle voted against a resolution condemning that audit. The resolution nonetheless passed 3-2 along party lines, with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo calling it “yet another argument to feed a conspiracy theory” that the 2020 election was stolen.

A number of Texas Republicans have come under fire for refusing to accept the results of 2020’s presidential election, in which Biden defeated Trump with 306 electoral college votes to Trump’s 232. Biden also won 51.3% of the popular vote.

More than a dozen Texas Republicans and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz all voted to reject the presidential election results in January. That same day, violent pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop the process of counting the votes and certifying the election.

Some state Republican lawmakers who echoed the false stolen election narrative later championed sweeping new voting laws that critics say amount to voter suppression. Houston-area state Rep. Briscoe Cain, who traveled to Pennsylvania to try and help Trump overturn the election, was chair of the House Elections Committee.

Abbott also later appointed John Scott, who briefly represented Trump in his attempts to overturn the election, as Texas Secretary of State.

Ramsey’s tenure on Commissioners Court has not been without controversy. At a meeting two weeks ago, he was criticized for going on a conservative talk radio show and accusing Democratic Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis of corruption without evidence.

Ramsey also said Ellis, who is Black, may have “anger issues.” Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, also a Democrat, put forward a resolution to condemn Ramsey’s remarks, saying they promoted a stereotypical “angry Black person” image.

A resolution condemning Ramsey for his comments passed 3-2 on party lines.

Additional reporting by Andrew Schneider.

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Paul DeBenedetto

Paul DeBenedetto

Senior Producer

Paul DeBenedetto is Houston Public Media's senior digital producer, writing and editing stories for HoustonPublicMedia.org. Before joining the station, Paul worked as a web producer for the Houston Chronicle, and his work has appeared online and in print for the Chronicle, the New York Times, DNAinfo New York, and other...

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