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Harris County GOP wants independent administrator to oversee next election instead of Isabel Longoria

They asked for an emergency hearing Wednesday after Longoria said her resignation wouldn't take effect until July.

HOUSTON — The Harris County Republican Party will ask a judge to appointment an independent administrator to oversee the next county election in May. 

At a news conference Wednesday, GOP party leaders said that an emergency hearing on the election issues was held today.

Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria announced Tuesday that she will resign effective July 1 after issues during the Texas primary last week. 

"The buck stops with me to address issues for voters and I did not meet my own standard or the standard set by commissioners," Longoria said.

But July isn't soon enough for the GOP.

“We’re stuck with her for two more elections,” GOP Party Chairman Cindy Siegel said.

   

They say voter confidence in the election process is at stake.

"We have an election administrator that's already proven to be inexperienced, incompetent and disingenuous, and yet that person's gonna be in charge of two major elections for both political parties in the state of Texas," said state Senator Paul Bettencourt. "And that can't be tolerated."

But Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said there's not enough time to appoint Longoria's replacement before the May runoff. 

"It would just not make sense from a logistical standpoint, I don't think it would be responsible, for us to bring in someone new when we have an election here in a matter of a few weeks," she said. 

Harris County announced over the weekend that they'd identified about 10,000 mail-in ballots that were not added into the original Election Night count. Results were also delayed on election night after Longoria said some of the paper ballots got stuck in the new voting machines. 

"Because of inexperience, incompetence and disingenuous behavior, we’ve had the worst election we’ve seen in 40 years of my lifetime in Harris County," Bettencourt said.

The chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party said, "a third-party consultant is being brought in to review the county's elections operations. The County Commissioners Court literally just voted to hire an independent consultant to make recommendations for improvements for the remaining 2022 elections."

Longoria was paid $190,000 a year -- which was approved by the Harris County Commissioners -- after being appointed to the newly created position by the Harris County Elections Commission in 2020. County Judge Lina Hidalgo is one of five members of the commission.

GOP leaders accused Hidalgo and other Democrats of trying to sweep the election issues under the rug. 

"We heard Lina Hidalgo, Rodney Ellis, Adrian Garcia talk yesterday about, ‘It was Senate Bill 1’s fault. It’s the voters’ fault. It’s the election workers’ fault. I really expected, at some point, that we were gonna hear Lina to say, ‘hey, my dog ate my homework. It’s my dog’s fault,'" Siegel said.

WATCH: GOP news conference

Longoria's full resignation statement

"Today I submit my resignation effective July 1. This date ensures that there is a presiding officer during the May and June elections and allows the Election Commission the time they need to find a replacement. I remain committed to the office and its mission and hope to aid in defeating harmful rhetoric to ensure successful elections in the future. 

Ultimately, the buck stops with me to address these issues and conduct elections on behalf of the voters. I didn’t meet my own standard nor the standard set by the Commissioners Court. But through this transition we now have a real opportunity to have the hard but necessary conversations in order to solve problems for future elections and further bolster the Elections Administration. 

But I also feel compelled to add context to the moments that brought us to today. 

Since the 2020 Presidential Election, bad faith actors across the country have worked to undermine the integrity of our elections and sow distrust in our civic institutions.  

Across the country we saw repeated attempts to cast doubt on election results if votes were not counted within 24 hours. This rhetoric continues here locally: the arbitrary 24-hour rule in Texas has been weaponized and threatens the principle of accuracy over speed. I’m greatly concerned that these attacks on our processes and civic institutions maximizes short term political gain but sacrifices long term trust in the bedrock of our democracy.  

The checks and balances of the canvassing process are designed to shed light on any issues in the unofficial election night results.  

That’s the entire purpose of the process.  

To declare failure before the process is completed is a disservice to voters. It assumes that anything that occurs after election night doesn’t matter though the canvassing period is the most critical part of our election process.  

Additionally - the restrictive voting laws of SB1 are a direct result of Harris County - the largest and most diverse in the State - broadening access to voters through innovative practices like drive-thru voting, 24-hour voting, and expanding access to mail-in ballots.  

And the issues our county faced this election are not unique - Counties across the state faced similar problems with staffing and with implementing new SB1 requirements.  

However -  the attacks on Harris County continue beyond the passage of SB1. These lawsuits and talking points we see now were written the moment this office was formed, and today serve as a distraction to conversations about how to improve the process, invest resources and make our elections better.  

Instead of working together to fix issues, these actions only further divide and eliminate opportunities for improvement. This does not excuse any mistakes that were made, but to ignore the culture of fear and lies that lead to political violence and an attack on our democracy is to miss a crucial variable in this problem."

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