Alan Vera, the Chairman of the Harris County Republican Party’s Ballot Security Committee, stated in a personal Facebook post that his challenge of 4,000 voter registrations involved using Republicans he appoints to the Ballot Board to review provisional ballots resulting from suspended voting statuses.
His words were shared by his friend Barbie Ann Burrow in a public post on July 30. It read:
THE PACKAGE IS DELIVERED
NOW WE WAIT.
This morning I delivered a challenge to the registrations of nearly 4,000 voters in Harris County, TX.
The receptionist at the voter registration office was overwhelmed when I placed the documents on her desk and asked her to sign and date a receipt for the package.
It took her 5 minutes to find somebody "in authority" to come out front to tell her it was OK to accept the package and sign the receipt. There were more than a few chuckles in that process.
Finally, the woman who will take the first steps with the challenges stepped out, looked over my package, then told the receptionist it was OK to sign the receipt. She told her to send the package to her immediately.
So now we wait and watch. Because I based my challenge on "residency," by law the registrar is supposed to suspend the registrations of all these voters. She's also supposed to send them a card giving them until October 6 to correct the discrepancies in their registration addresses. She must also inform them that if the discrepancy is not corrected, they won't be able to vote a regular ballot in November. They can only vote a provisional ballot.
All provisional ballots are reviewed by the Ballot Board, and I appoint all the Republican members of that board.
Please continue your prayers for this project. It could make a big difference in the November election results.
Since the story about the challenges broke, Vera has not returned requests for comments. Below is a screencap of his personal Facebook account “liking” Burrow’s post.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
The challenges resulted in the suspension of photographer Lynn Lane’s voting status, though he was able to combat it in time to vote on the August 25 flood bond proposal. After the Houston Press saw his initial social media regarding the letters from Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector & Voter Registrar Ann Bennett Harris informing of him of the challenge, we confirmed with several other voters, including Tim Lankford, that the challenges appeared to be focused on heavily minority areas of the city. Update: 10:30 a.m. According to the Houston Chronicle, however, the challenges are throughout several neighborhoods of Harris County and did not target the Third Ward or other predominantly minority neighborhoods. It's difficult to understand how they know this since their story on the challenges said Harris Bennett declined to share the 4,000 addresses with it.
The Harris County Republican Party responded to the accusations in a statement accusing Bennett of jumping the gun in her suspensions and not waiting the 30 days prescribed by Texas law. They also claimed that the addresses were associated with UPS stores, industrial facilities and the Harris County jail. Previously, Thomas Wang, Republican candidate for Texas House District 147 claimed the addresses were connected to post office boxes. Neither Lane nor Lankford have ever had a PO Box.
From the beginning, the work of Vera has appeared to mirror Republican initiatives across the country using poll watching and voter registration challenges to attack the rights of minority voters who typically vote Democrat. His Facebook post suggests that forcing challenged voters to use provisional ballots subject to oversight by officials he appoints was the impetus behind the challenges, not electoral integrity as claimed. Influencing the election in November was a priority.