Harris County has been one of the prime targets of Texas Republican anti-voting rights and access initiatives, but the Texas GOP itself is now claiming they can’t find voter suppression in a new lawsuit.
The case is a little bizarre. The defendant is Elizabeth Alvarez, an attorney who has represented 17 Republicans in the county who lost elections in 2022. Her most famous client was Alex Mealer, who challenged Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and lost, but not before claiming that there were multiple election shenanigans afoot. Mealer dropped her lawsuit in September, with no evidence of election tampering or voter suppression revealed.
Mealer’s case is typical of Alvarez’s work. Only one of her lawsuits made it to trial, and the one that did was dismissed when the plaintiff presented no actual disenfranchised voters. The new lawsuit against Alvarez instigated by the Republican Party of Texas, claims that she duped candidates about being able to find solid proof of widespread voter suppression. According to the complaint lodged by the Texas GOP, she offered a “data model” that promised more than 40,000 residents in the county were denied access to voting. If even half of those votes were from Republicans, several races would have new winners.
Alvarez denies ever making such promises or having a data model.
“It’s full of nonsense,” Alvarez told The Houston Chronicle. “Our clients were all happy with our representation … I guess no good deed goes unpunished.”
The idea of incompetently run elections or outright suppression of Republican voters in Harris County has been key to several movements by Texas Republicans to attack the state’s most populous Democratic voting region. Several locations running out of paper for new voting machines in 2022 was enough proof for the state legislature to remove county election officials the next year. Despite accusations, there is no proof that this occurred only in heavily-Republican areas.
Alvzarez was instrumental in helping Republicans craft new laws aimed at making it harder to vote in Harris County. With her help, the legislature brought an end to 24-hour and drive-thru voting, which had been prototyped in the county during COVID as safety measures. Texas House Democrats fled the state to Washington D.C. to deny Republicans a quorum to pass the law and to make their case to the U.S. Congress for election protection, but the bill ultimately passed.
The Texas GOP lawsuit also attacked Alvarez for her controversial decision to file several of her prominent legal complaints, including Mealer’s, on January 6, 2023. The decision to file on that day was harshly criticized by people who felt Alavarez was making a political statement to coincide with the anniversary of the attempted coup by supporters of former President Donald Trump on the U.S. Capitol in 2021. That attack was sparked by accusations of voter fraud and stolen elections. Alvarez maintains that her decision to file election challenges on the date were merely a matter of scheduling, not coded political language.