Feb 21, 2023 - News

What to know about Harris County's election challenges

A close shot of a person wearing a blue and green top sports an "I Voted" sticker

Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

With furniture mogul Jim McIngvale's new lawsuit targeting public records from Harris County's 2022 election, here's your catch-up-quick on the long list of election challenges the county is facing in response to voting issues, including a paper shortage and late poll openings.

Driving the news: McIngvale, known to many as Gallery Furniture's Mattress Mack, is suing the county over records related to the election.

  • Media consultant Wayne Dolcefino, working on behalf of McIngvale, submitted several records requests to the Harris County Election Administrator's Office that were not returned — prompting the legal challenge last week, according to the Houston Chronicle.

State of play: McIngvale's lawsuit adds to the legal challenges the county is battling from more than 20 losing Republican candidates, including County Judge Lina Hidalgo's opponent Alexandra Mealer, and the Harris County Republican Party.

  • Plus: The county faces a criminal investigation from the Texas Rangers and a forensic audit by the Texas Secretary of State's office, per the Chronicle.

Between the lines: The county refused to hand over the documents to McIngvale because of the pending lawsuits — a caveat in Texas' open records law.

  • "The requests for these documents were handled the same as any other requests for documents related to ongoing litigation against the county," County Attorney Christian Menefee said in a statement to the Chronicle. "We're evaluating the lawsuit and will let the courts sort it out."

What they're saying: "Harris County voters have a right to know right now what went wrong," Dolcefino told the Chronicle.

The other side: Hidalgo — who won her own election against McIngvale-endorsed Mealer in November with 50.82% of the vote — said the lawsuit adds to a trend of election denialism in Harris County.

  • "It's real democracy," Hidalgo said at a press conference last week. "It's real people who came out and voted, and real folks who were duly elected. And it's important to protect our democracy."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Harris County Election Administrator's Office says it is always adjusting to changes in regulations and technology.

  • "The Harris County Elections Administrator's Office is constantly adapting and improving processes, regardless of whether or not there are audits, investigations, or litigation," spokesperson Nadia Hakim said.

Dig deeper: Election expert breaks down Harris County probe

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