Elections

Harris County in talks with feds to send monitors to watch state inspectors on election night

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said the Justice Department is “seriously considering our request” for election monitors.

Daisy Espinoza / Houston Public Media
A sample ballot is placed in the voting machine as a demonstration for how it work on election day.

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Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said his office is in communication with the Justice Department and they are “seriously considering our request” to send federal election monitors to the area.

Texas’ Secretary of State informed the county last week it would send monitors and be joined by representatives of the Texas Attorney General’s office who would be available to “respond to any legal issues inspectors might find.”

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, County Attorney Christian Menefee and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner responded by asking the United States Justice Department to send federal election monitors to watch the state inspectors.

“We’ve expressed our concerns to them and we’ve sent them the Secretary of State’s letter,” Menefee said on Tuesday’s Houston Matters with Craig Cohen. “So we’re continuing those conversations and seeing what will come of it.”

Menefee said the state sending inspectors is considered attempting to interfere with elections in Harris County.

“It’s a bad-faith misuse of their powers and, frankly I think that we’ve seen that Governor Abbott’s and the Secretary of State’s office cannot be trusted,” Menefee said. “So I think bringing in federal election monitors brings an objective party to the process that isn’t seeking to undermine our election processes and our election results.”

Menefee said he’s worried the state officials could interfere depending on the outcome.

“I think it’s very clear that this entire process is to set the stage for if the election doesn’t go the way the Republican Party wants it go that they can attempt to undermine our results.”

He said if they find themselves going to court over election issues, having federal inspectors would also help their cases.

He added that as long as the state would be in Harris County for the election, they will “not be trusted” by the county.

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