Natalia Contreras

Reporter, Votebeat Texas

Natalia Contreras has covered a range of topics as a community journalist including local government, public safety, immigration, and social issues. Natalia comes to Votebeat from the Austin American-Statesman, where her reporting focused on impacts of government policies on communities of color. Natalia previously reported for the Indianapolis Star, where she helped launch the first Spanish-language newsletter, and at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Natalia was born in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The Republican-passed Senate Bill 1 added restrictions to voting that plaintiffs say disproportionately affect voters of color.
Officials previously could locate a single voting site to serve multiple small precincts. Now some counties will need to double their number of sites.
Small counties lack the money and people to work the several days of 12-hour shifts now required statewide, election officials say.
Texas attorney general appealed the injunction, preventing the order from taking effect. Judge had found the law unconstitutional and said it would disrupt this November’s elections.
Texas is the latest state, and one of the largest, to resign from the program.
Experts say this major change could disrupt the work and planning currently underway to prepare for elections in November and 2024.
Bipartisan bills passed this session will give voters more time and opportunities to fix mistakes when they request and return ballots by mail.
The bipartisan legislation was long-sought by voters with disabilities, including some of the governor’s own allies.
Guessing which bills would make it through the Legislature wasn’t easy. Here’s how we did it.
The Election Commission unanimously appointed Clinton Ludwig to replace Heider Garcia. None of the three finalists had any election administration experience.
Karen Wiseman previously sued former election administrator Heider Garcia and participated in a right-wing group’s search for 2020 voter fraud.
Two bills with bipartisan support will deliver improvements that voters with disabilities have been seeking for years.
A bill Republicans shaped behind closed doors directs the state to investigate and supervise the county’s election administration, even targeting officials for removal.
Lawmakers unanimously vote to roll back the 2021 ban on reusable data storage after Votebeat’s report on its expensive, unrealistic mandate.
The Senate and House bills had differed on whether someone should be punished for voting by mistake. Now the two chambers must reach an agreement.
Bill rooted in conspiracy theories about the multi-state program for cleaning voter rolls approved by the House and Senate.
Harris County leaders say state’s new oversight laws would set a “dangerous precedent” and may challenge the effort in court.
The bill motivated by conspiracy theories about the voter-roll-checking program nearly died this week in the legislature. Now it’s back, and awaits an uncertain vote.
Alan Vera was a mainstay at the Texas Capitol, frequently consulting on legislation. Two weeks ago, the House Elections Committee sang him “Happy Birthday.”
Law would force the county to move election duties under its clerk and tax assessor-collector, in reaction to what critics call a continued pattern of election problems.
Proposals giving state officials more authority over local elections — triggered by Harris County’s election problems — are poised to win lawmakers’ support.
After Heider Garcia departs, “that skill set is gonna be very hard to replace,” election expert says.
Heider Garcia’s resignation comes in the wake of tensions with a county judge who ran his campaign on conservative election integrity.
The mandate they approved in 2021 will force counties to replace their election machines at a cost of more than $100 million — and to keep replacing them. One Senate bill to address the problem is moving ahead.
Texas lawmakers, citing problems in the state’s largest county, push to increase state authority over local elections
It took years to build the multi-state system known as ERIC, which weeds out duplicate, deceased, and suspicious voter registrations. Texas Republicans want to dump it, but there’s no viable replacement.
Lawmakers debate whether ineligible voters would be prosecuted for making a mistake. Republicans had lowered the penalty to a misdemeanor two years ago.
ERIC is a national system that Texas officials say is an important tool to keep voting rolls clean. But a band of right-wing voter fraud activists, joined by state GOP officials, wants to gut it.
Republican lawmakers work to reverse change to state law that made illegal voting a misdemeanor
GOP lawmakers filed two bills in response to Harris County’s recent Election Day problems.