Dear Harris County Election Administrator:
I am writing to recap and expand on my recommendations to the Harris County Commissioners Court, regarding the establishment of the office of Election Administrator in our County.
First, under the law, once the Commissioners Court creates the office of Election Administrator, it will be the Harris County Election Commission that will have the power to hire and fire the election administrator, not Commissioners Court.
The members of the Election Commission are the County Judge, County Clerk, Tax Accessor Collector, Harris County Democratic Party Chair and Harris County Republican Party Chair.
Four of the five members of the Harris County Election Commission are Democrats and include Ann Bennett the Tax Accessor-Collector and Chris Hollins the Interim County Clerk. Once a new County Clerk is elected, they will replace Chris Hollins on the Election Commission. This is why I am supporting Teneshia Hudspeth for County Clerk. I hope that all the Harris County Democratic Party Precinct Chairs will also support putting her on the November ballot as the Democratic Party candidate for the job.
Second, Commissioners Court and the Harris County Election Commission should create a 15-member Community Advisory Board composed of both Republican and Democratic precinct chairs and other community leaders to participate in the hiring process for the election administrator.
This process should be similar to the process utilized by community colleges and universities when they hire a new President or Chancellor. There should be community forums to introduce the top two or three candidates to the public so that voters can ask the candidates questions and the candidates can understand that public interaction with voters would be an essential part of their duties.
Third, the Advisory Board should remain in place after the hiring process and the Election Administrator should be required to meet with the Advisory Board on a quarterly basis every year.
Fourth, the Election Administrator should be required to report to and brief Commissioners Court at least thirty (30) days before all elections and provide an after-action report to both Commissioners Court and the Advisory Board within sixty days following an election.
Fifth, the County Attorney should specifically be designated General Counsel for the office of Election Administrator. The County Attorney should be required to designate an Assistant County Attorney to work full time in the office of the Election Administrator.
Sixth, any and all changes in election polling locations proposed by the Election Administrator must be discussed in advance with the Community Advisory Board and be subject to pre-clearance by the County Attorney before any such changes could be implemented.
Seventh, the Election Administrator and their office should be subject to an annual performance evaluation and a sunset review every five (5) or ten (10) years.
Finally, the office of Election Administrator should be charged with the responsibility of achieving 100% voter registration among the voter eligible population of Harris County by 2025.
It is my belief that if these structural safeguards are adopted and implemented as a part of the creation of the office of Election Administrator, in Harris County, the voice of the community will be enhanced and the rights of the voters elevated and better protected.
Thank you and God Bless Houston. For constructive dialogue, you may contact me directly >>>
Hon. Robinson is the former Chairman, City of Houston Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee; Former Vice Chairman, Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council (H-GAC TPC) and Associate Professor of Public Administration, Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University.