Elections in the past two to four years have become very contentious. Many Texans claim local and state elections suffer from corruption, mismanagement and fraud. Many others insist that the elections are valid reflections of voters’ wishes.
It appears that elections in Texas are about to become even more controversial. The Texas Senate passed a bill that would allow the Texas Secretary of State to toss out the results of democratic elections in Harris County.
What to know about SB-1993
On May 3, 2022, the Texas Senate passed SB-1993. The bill grants the Texas Secretary of State – currently Secretary Jane Nelson – to order a new election in certain counties. To do so, the secretary would only have to have “good cause” to believe that at least 2% of polling places in a county of at least 2.7 million people did not have enough usable ballots. Currently, the only county in Texas with a population over 2.7 million is Harris County. Although the bill cleared the Senate, it has yet to pass in the House.
Criticism and worries of partisan politics
The measure has met considerable controversy. Although the bill has ostensibly good intentions, critics say it opens the door for secretaries of state to overturn elections whose results do not favor their political party. Skeptics note that Harris County, which seems the target of the bill, became more Democratic in the past election while the current secretary was appointed by Republican Gov. Abbott. The standard of proof for ordering a new election is so low that a secretary could do so in the hopes of giving their own party an advantage.
The power to reject more elections?
This holds far-reaching implications for elections in other counties. If the bill passes the house and Gov. Abbott signs it into law, it sets a precedent for the Senate and the House to introduce similar bills for elections in other counties. County election officials must strive to provide enough usable ballots. If so, they may face the possibility of inclusion in a similar bill in the future.