For now, at least. Something tells me we have not heard the last of this.
Harris County officials and the Democratic Party have settled an ongoing legal dispute over denial rates of new voter registration applications – at least for now – though an attorney for party officials say they remain concerned that more voters appear to get rejected here than in other large counties nationwide.
Harris County Tax Assessor Collector Don Sumners said Wednesday via email that his office has agreed to provide Democrats with a database and specific documentation about how 1,250 registration applications were denied, according to the terms reached in talks last week. The agreement spells out that the office can charge no more than $1,500 for providing the information.
Sumners argued that Friday’s mediation was unnecessary.
“They could have received the data without causing the county to spend a lot of taxpayers’ money on attorneys, not to mention expending the time of my employees,” he said in an email to the Chronicle.
But Chad Dunn, an attorney for Democrats, argued Sumners’ office repeatedly obstructed requests for voter registration data both from the party and from a nonprofit group.
“I’m disappointed that it takes a federal lawsuit to get information out of our tax office. For four months we’ve been seeking information about denials,” he said. “By every objective measure Don Sumners’ office is the worst performing voter registration department of any major county in America whether you look at total number of applications rejected or a completely flat line voter roll.”
The story notes that other large counties reject fewer voter registration applications than Harris does, and that Harris County has seen no growth in voter registrations over the past decade despite explosive population growth. As a data point, here are the registered voter tallies given by the County Clerk on Election Day for even-year election days going back to 2002:
2002 – 1,875,777
2004 – 1,876,296
2006 – 1,902,222
2008 – 1,892,656
2010 – 1,917,534
The story says “Harris County’s voter registration is about 1.88 million – a number that has remained relatively flat for six years.” As you can see, it’s been flat for longer than that. You tell me why that is the case.