AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a Writ of Mandamus in the Texas Supreme Court Tuesday in an attempt to throw out some votes cast in Harris County during the November midterm election.
Paxton is calling for ballots cast after 7 p.m. in Harris County on election night to be canceled. This impacted more than 2,000 votes, according to Harris County officials.
Harris County, home to Houston, is the most populous county in the state. It is set to certify votes today.
Harris County faced several issues in the most recent election including the late opening of many of its nearly 800 polling locations on Election Day. Due to the late start, the nonprofit Texas Organizing Project petitioned for polling locations to remain open one additional hour until 8 p.m.
But after a flurry of legal challenges and issued opinions from different courts, the Texas Supreme Court ultimately called for the ballots cast by voters who were not in line by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be cast by provisional ballot and set aside.
Paxton argued in his challenges that the state Election Code states that polls can only be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The county’s troubles opening on time does not allow it to remain open later, he stated.
Should the court rule in Paxton’s favor, the provisional ballots cast during the extended period will not be counted in the most recent election totals.
State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, said he is in favor of Paxton’s writ, stating that the “the law is clear, the stay issued by the Supreme Court is clear.”
Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee said in a statement that Paxton’s writ comes within hours of the state’s deadline to certify votes even though the office had two weeks to file the lawsuit..
“Republican, Democrat, or Independent — no eligible voter should have their ballot thrown out because Ken Paxton can’t accept the results of Harris County elections,” Menefee said in a statement. “A court of law ordered our county to keep the polls open for an additional hour on Election Day and people across our county cast their ballots during that time. My office is going to do everything we can to protect every single eligible vote that was cast and ensure residents’ voices in our democratic process are not silenced.”
The Texas Supreme Court has until noon to respond, Bettencourt’s office said.