Black conservatives join lawsuit alleging Harris County voter suppression

Election-related problems in the Houston area over the past two years have been so widespread that the state legislature passed a bill in an attempt to fix them

Published: July 21, 2023 11:49pm

(The Center Square) -

Black conservatives have joined a lawsuit seeking transparency about the November 2022 election in Harris County that they allege Democratic officials mismanaged.

At a news conference on Thursday in Houston, they joined Jim McIngvale Gallery Furniture owner “Mattress Mack,” who sued the county earlier this year.

McIngvale was among dozens who sued, including 17 judges, alleging election irregularities and problems created by a new county election administrator. They are seeking county records.

Election-related problems over the past two years have been so widespread that the state legislature passed a bill in an attempt to fix them. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law, which requires, among other provisions, that county election oversight be managed by election officials. Harris County sued, alleging the law is unconstitutional.

Jonathan McCullough, founder and president of a Houston area-based Urban Conservatives of America, said, “We have joined prominent and respected Houstonians Jim McIngvale and Wayne Dolcefino to petition the courts with respect to the lack of transparency of the Harris County Elections Administration office that is withholding information needed to guarantee the integrity of Harris County elections for registered voters.

"Our right to transparency is as sacred as our right to vote. The Harris County election office cannot turn a blind eye to the 2022 Midterm election issues of malfunctioning voting machines, insufficient election staffs, delayed opening of voting centers and even running out of ballots on election day."

Urban Conservatives of America is a faith-based non-profit organization “committed to restoring, promoting, and protecting America’s foundational values of Faith, Family, and Freedom in American Urban Communities.” It was founded in response to “systematic oppression and conditioning of Black Americans by failed Democrat policies" that "has left once intact families and thriving communities in a state of poverty and despair,” according to its website.

McIngvale and Dolcefino, a media consultant and former television reporter, sued in February. Their lawsuit asks the court to require Harris County to turn over all election records they requested.

"We think the November 2022 election was an absolute debacle," McIngvale said. "We have been blocked at every road by the Harris County election officials who won't be transparent. All we're asking for is transparency in the voting process, so the citizens in Harris County can know they had a true vote."

In February, McIngvale launched to collect information from voters who “experienced difficulty with voting” in the November election. He said his lawsuit was being amended next week to include new claims.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has repeatedly said there was no voter fraud during the November election or any election and that lawsuits filed against the county are meritless.

After the election, primarily Black residents protested outside of Harris County Commissioner’s Court alleging the election had been stolen. On Thursday, Black voters held signs reading, “Our voice, our vote,” and “transparency matters.” They also wore t-shirts saying, “stop conservative discrimination,” referring to voting locations running out of paper primarily in conservative neighborhoods.

Dolcefino pointed to reports that voting locations in primarily Republican precincts didn’t open on time, voting machines didn’t have enough paper or jammed, and voters were turned away. In response, a judge extended polling hours.

The November election issues followed problems in the 2022 primary election when the first election administrator lost 10,000 ballots and was later forced to resign. It also followed a 2021 state commissioned audit that found, among other problems, that Harris County had an improper chain of custody of nearly 185,000 vote records from the November 2020 election.

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, the author of the new law, said it would “restore voter trust, accountability, and transparency in Harris County elections by returning the management of elections back to elected officials.”

He also said the Harris County lawsuit is frivolous and won’t hold up in court.

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