Are election-integrity bills needed in Texas?
AUSTIN, Texas - The Travis County Republican Party is calling on volunteers to testify or submit testimony to the Texas legislature regarding their concerns with election integrity.
In the email, the Republicans identified numerous bills from removing an election administrator. If things go really bad, it will give more power to the Texas Secretary of State.
Chairman of the Travis County Republican Party Matt Mackowiak and Katie Naranjo, chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, joined FOX 7 Austin's Mike Warren to discuss.
MIKE WARREN: Matt, are these election integrity bills really needed?
MATT MACKOWIAK: Well, they are. And the reason for that is we've seen really an unmitigated disaster in Houston over the last year. And that's not just in the general election was also in the primary. You've had their election administrator, election administrator leave office after tremendous criticism for both sides after the primary, the delay in the results and just the overall disorganization you have several lawsuits have now been filed in Harris County. You have the district attorney who's a Democrat who's called for the Texas Rangers to investigate what's happening in Harris County. And kind of the core issue is that a number of Republican precincts had insufficient numbers of ballots in those areas by significant amounts, in some cases running up by 10 a.m.. So a number of these bills have been filed to try to make up for those mistakes and that illegality over the last year. And I think you're going to see some progress there.
MIKE WARREN: Katie, how is Harris County as big a mess as Matt describes it? And would these bills fix the mess?
KATIE NARANJO: I can't see the Democratic Party dragging its feet for Harris County, but what I can tell you is it sounds like the issue resolves itself. The election's administrator left and the local control that the county commissioners had to replace that person to ensure election integrity was put in place. I think the concern here that every Texan should have is that the state of Texas is trying to become a dictatorship in terms of local control. There's no more local control, whether it comes to our schools, our elections, or how we operate in the state of Texas. Our leadership, our governor, lieutenant governor, do not like what your county is doing. They're coming away to take your power.
MIKE WARREN: Matt Mackowiak, some of these bills meant to fix problems in Harris County. Could they have repercussions for Travis County or other counties in Texas?
MATT MACKOWIAK: Yeah, and that's one of the concerns, is that what the ridiculous behavior that we saw in Harris County last year would disenfranchise tens, if not hundreds of thousands of voters. Indeed, was not fixed, as Katie said, because those voters were disenfranchised. We have to ensure this doesn't happen again, Harris County. But we want to make sure it also does it. I'm sorry.
KATIE NARANJO: How are they? Disenfranchise they extended voting hours to make sure people could vote. So how is their disenfranchisement?
MATT MACKOWIAK: Because when someone shows up at a location at 10 a.m. and that location is out of ballots, they may or may not come back later if the hours are extended. Katie, So you talk a lot about voter voting, voting rights. The Democrats harp on it time and time and time again. In this case, the Democratic district attorney of Harris County has asked the Texas Rangers to investigate what's going on there.
KATIE NARANJO: But the attorney general, the Republican attorney general, is the one suing Harris County because they're upset that the hours got extended. So what I'm trying to understand is, is this really about voter disenfranchisement or about controlling who votes? Because every voter to be clear, the Democratic Party agrees that every single voter that is eligible to do so should be afforded that right without obstruction. That's never the issue for us. But here, I don't understand why the attorney general is now suing Harris County as a result.
MATT MACKOWIAK: He's not the only person suing Harris in Harris County. You have several candidates, many of whom were in very, very close races, who were disadvantaged by the fact that Republican precincts ran out of ballots as early as 10 a.m. on Election Day. So we just want to make sure this never happens again. So, Kate. Okay. So we do for you.
KATIE NARANJO: And are you in are you in agreement that if there is an issue like that, that the law that the hours should be extended, that because we've had similar issues in Travis County where because of freezes and whether we had to either close a polling location early or open that late and, so, we extended hours because that would disenfranchise people. I'm just curious, are you for people actually being able.
MIKE WARREN: To quick answer on this one, Matt, because I've got to wrap you guys.
MATT MACKOWIAK: Yeah, what I'm in favor of is voting locations, not running out of ballot paper at 10 a.m. on Election Day. And I would hope you would oppose that, too.
MIKE WARREN: Okay. All right.
KATIE NARANJO: We agree with that agreement.
MIKE WARREN: We're going to enter with an agreement because we're way over. Good discussion. Matt, Katie. Both, thank you very much.