Harris County mistakenly placed more than 1,700 voters on its suspension list in response to a local Republican official’s challenge of nearly 4,000 voter registrations, county Tax Assessor-Collector Ann Harris Bennett said Wednesday. The situation quickly spun into a partisan spat with the Harris County Democrats accusing the GOP of targeting Democratic voters, and the Harris County Republican Party blasting Bennett, who also is the county’s voter registrar, for the suspensions and for confusing voters. “Democrat Voter Registrar Ann Harris Bennett should not have jumped the gun by suspending those voters’ registrations,” Harris County Republican Party Chairman Paul Simpson said in a statement. “We urge Democrat Ann Harris Bennett to follow the law and quit violating voters’ rights.”
The suspensions came to light after Bennett’s office mailed letters to the voters whose registrations were challenged, asking them to confirm their addresses.
Assistant County Attorney Douglas Ray said counties are required to give voters 30 days to respond to those requests before placing them on a suspension list, but Bennett’s office took that action prematurely in some cases.