The Harris County Attorney’s office on Thursday said it is looking into allegations a grass-roots group knocked on doors in Sunnyside and attempted to get residents to sign affidavits verifying the identities of registered voters living at their addresses. The county attorney’s probe is based on a complaint from at least one Sunnyside resident who said two men came to her home and asked questions they said were to confirm the identities of registered voters who live at that address. The men gave her an official-looking affidavit form and asked her to sign it attesting to the residents at the address “under penalty of perjury.” “We are investigating this issue and exploring legal options to protect residents and prevent this from happening again,” the County Attorney’s office said in a statement, adding it is working closely with the Harris County Elections Administrator’s office to fully understand what happened. In a Wednesday evening news release, the elections office warned residents against “scammers” it said pretended to be from the county elections and voter registration offices and attempted to collect sensitive personal information from voters. The County Attorney’s office, however, said it had no information that anyone had attempted to misrepresent themselves as public employees, which would be illegal. The two men, according to doorbell camera video footage recorded by a Sunnyside resident, wore badges identifying themselves as members of Texas Election Network, a conservative grass-roots organization formed in 2021. Paperwork filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s office shows Texas Election Network was created in July 2021 by Melissa Conway, who currently serves as the Republican National Committee’s Texas state director for election integrity. She has been an inactive, unpaid member of Texas Election Network since starting her role at the RNC, according to an RNC spokesperson.
Harris County Republican Party spokesperson Genevieve Carter said Texas Election Network is not affiliated with the local party but confirmed Alan Vera — chair of the county GOP’s ballot security committee — is a Texas Election Network board member.
“The people canvassing residents are grass-roots volunteers for the nonprofit organization called Texas
Election Network and they are wearing badges that clearly state the name of the organization with the nonprofit registration number on the back,” Vera said in a statement. “These volunteers are not employees of any political party. The nonprofit’s mission is to empower citizens to ensure and protect fair and ransparent elections.”
Sunnyside is a south Houston predominantly minority lower-income neighborhood in which 75 percent of
residents are Black and another 20 percent are Hispanic, according to 2019 data from the city.
In video footage recorded Sunday and reviewed by the Houston Chronicle Thursday, a man carrying the
clipboard explains to the resident: “What they told us to do is get a yes or no to confirm whether everybody is here. If not, we’ll take the ones off that are not, and then they update their records.”
The Texas Election Network website — which has minimal information about the organization and does not
disclose its leadership — lists five objectives, including clean voter rolls and fraud-free absentee ballots.
In its release, the county elections office said it does request the information being asked on the form used by men and added that voters are not required to sign them.
“In the event that the Harris County Elections Office ever needs to contact you directly, our staff will have county ID badges to prove their identity, and/or paperwork with the logo or official seal of the office included,” the release states. James Slattery, senior staff attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, said for the average voter, the organization’s name, badge and paperwork could convey a sense of an official visit by the government without explicitly doing so. “I’m sure they’ll say they’re just a bland nonprofit, but to a voter who does not have a law degree, who does not have a background in law enforcement, you are a lot more likely to believe that this is some kind of quasi- official visit,” Slattery said.
“This is one of the precise situations I have been most worried about this election — people in shadowy
volunteer groups who suggest in one way or another that they are acting under official authority questioning the eligibility of voters directly by knocking on their doors,” Slattery said.
Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said in a statement he was not surprised to hear about
the organization asking Sunnyside residents to verify voter information, or the organization’s ties to a
Republican National Committee employee. “I urge voters to be vigilant. Voters in Sunnyside, and throughout the region, have rights,” Ellis said. “Voters need to know they are under no obligation to engage this group, provide information, or sign any document.”
A Sunnyside resident took a photo of the form she said she was asked to sign.