UNITED STATES NEWS

GOP candidate challenging election loss in race to lead Texas’ most populous county drops lawsuit

Sep 22, 2023, 10:24 AM

HOUSTON (AP) — The highest profile Republican candidate who had sued seeking to overturn election results in the nation’s third-most populous county, a Democratic stronghold in deeply red Texas, has dropped her lawsuit.

Alexandra del Moral Mealer was one of 21 GOP candidates who had filed lawsuits challenging their losses in November’s election in Harris County, where Houston is located. Most of the lawsuits were filed by candidates who lost judicial races.

The first trial related to the lawsuits — in which a candidate blamed her defeat on ballot shortages and allegations that illegal votes were cast — took place in August. A ruling in that lawsuit is pending.

Mealer had lost her bid to become Harris County judge, the county’s top elected official who deals with spending and is in charge of local emergency response. She lost by more than 18,000 votes to Lina Hidalgo, the Democratic incumbent.

In a statement on Thursday, Mealer said she dropped her lawsuit because the county pushed back on her efforts to get a full accounting of problems during November’s election.

Last year’s midterm election experienced various problems, including paper ballot shortages and some polling locations opening late or having long lines due to issues with voting machines.

“My goal in filing an election contest was not to relitigate my race, but rather to make sure future races are fair to all voters and candidates,” Mealer said.

Mealer’s decision came after her original attorney had withdrawn from the case because she did not agree with Mealer’s claims of ballot fraud in the election.

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said Mealer “spread conspiracy theories in an attempt to overturn the will of the voters. It’s time for the other losing Republican candidates to drop their lawsuits as well.”

Besides Mealer, another GOP candidate also dropped his lawsuit on Thursday. Another candidate dropped his lawsuit last month. A GOP candidate who lost his race to be a state legislator from the Houston area had his election challenge dismissed in January by the Texas House speaker.

Similar court challenges have become more common around the country following baseless conspiracy theories spread by former President Donald Trump and his supporters alleging the 2020 presidential election was stolen by President Joe Biden’s backers.

Harris County in recent years has become a recurring target of new Texas voting rules and restrictions passed by GOP lawmakers.

Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature passed two election-related laws that only impact Harris County. One allows the state to take over elections in the county if problems recur and the other eliminated the county’s top election office.

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GOP candidate challenging election loss in race to lead Texas’ most populous county drops lawsuit