HOUSTON — With early voting underway, election inspectors with the Texas Secretary of State's Office are already on the ground in Harris County and more will be arriving for Election Day.
In addition to the secretary of state inspectors, the Texas Attorney General's Office announced last week it will send an election task force to Harris County to be on the lookout for potential problems.
Harris County Democratic leaders say it's an attempt to intimidate voters and cast doubt on Harris County elections. It's why they've asked the Department of Justice to get involved as observers as well.
"It's a normal, regular part of the process and it helps bring transparency to the election process," said Sam Taylor, assistant secretary of state for Communications. "There's lots of claims that our inspectors are intimidating voters. That's just not true."
The Secretary of State's Office said there's nothing unusual about sending election inspectors to Harris County. 118 are spread out all over Texas too.
But county attorney Christian Menefee claimed the state is targeting Harris County's election, continuing a process that's been going on for more than a year.
"Sending them to Harris County is intended to make a statement and intimidate folks working the elections," said Menefee.
Election law in Texas does allow for Secretary of State inspectors at the polls or Central Count locations, but what's raising eyebrows is Attorney General Ken Paxton's decision to send a task force of his own to Harris County too.
"They haven't defined who is part of this task force," said Odus Evbagharu, chair of the Harris County Democratic Party. "Will this be more MAGA extremists intimidating black and brown voters all over Harris County?"
Paxton's office didn't answer our requests for comment, but the Secretary of State's Office told KHOU 11 the task force is not legally allowed inside polling places and will only be there to assist if legal problems arise.
"We have no further detail on where the AG task force will be and what specific role they will play," said Menefee. "There are still many unanswered questions."
It's why Menefee, along with county Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking for federal election monitors to come to Harris County too.
"Never before have seen such a request to bring in the DOJ to monitor our monitors," said Taylor.
The Harris County GOP told KHOU 11 that Democrats are fear-mongering about what should be considered routine, but they do support as many eyes on the election as necessary to protect the voting process.
"Every voter should be happy there is some oversight to ensure this important election, that there are eyes and ears there to ensure that Texas election code is followed," said Cindy Siegel, chairwoman of the Harris County GOP.
County leaders say the DOJ hasn't committed to coming to Harris County yet, but are seriously considering the county's request.