Alleged plot to eliminate Third Ward voters with ‘registration challenges’ isn’t what it seems, county officials say

HOUSTON — After 1,700 Harris County residents were alarmed by getting notices that their voting rights were suspended, we're finding out those notices should never have gone out in the first place.

"A challenge to vote needs to be based upon personal information that is valid as to a question about that voter's registration address,” says Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan.

But that's not what happened here.

According to Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, Chairman of the Harris County Republican Party's Ballot Security Committee Alan Vera, matched addresses against a data base to find things like a post office box, for example.  And that's not a good enough reason to submit a challenge.

“Many people have for instance post office boxes because they get a lot of mail or they have some personal reason for not wanting their personal address out there for the public,” Ryan said.

And it turns out it wasn't 4,000 notices that went out as originally estimated.

Thanks to these challenges, it was a little more than 1,700 after duplicates and others didn't make it through the system.

The whole thing got ironed out in County Commissioners Court on Tuesday.

The long and short of it was, no one was suspended from voting.

An estimated 1,700 voters were added to a poorly named 'Suspense List,' which just means they're flagged and the next time the resident tries to vote in the next two federal elections, they'll be asked to verify their residence and then allowed to vote.

And as far as whether it was an effort targeted specifically to disenfranchise Third Ward voters...

“It wasn't. It was all over the county, and in fact, there was even a Republican precinct chair that got one of these letters,” explains Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.

The County Attorney's Office has ordered the Harris County Voter Registrar's Office send out new notices negating the validity of the first notice.  And now that this drama is over, let's get ready for what`s sure to be a stress-free mid-term election season!