In a loss for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the Harris County District Court ruled Friday that Harris County can legally send out vote-by-mail applications to all registered voters.
Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins is planning on sending more than 2 million mail-ballot applications to registered voters — an effort that drew the ire of the indicted Texas attorney general, leading to a court battle in state district court.
“This is a win for every registered voter in Harris County, and indeed, every voter in Texas — the right to vote is the most fundamental aspect of our democracy,” said Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins in a prepared statement. “We are still enduring a global pandemic ahead of the most consequential election of our lifetime, and voters are concerned about their health and the health of their loved ones. Providing clear information about vote-by-mail eligibility requirements increases voter awareness, and we want to ensure that those who determine themselves eligible can easily apply for a mail ballot and make their voice heard this November. I urge the Attorney General not to appeal this decision — these partisan tactics undercut our democracy and will place millions of Texans’ health at risk.”
In Texas, only those 65 or older, in jail, with a disability or outside of the country can vote by mail. Texas is one of six states that has not eased restrictions to allow any voter to use mail ballots
Despite Texas’ voting restrictions, there is nothing on the books that prevents voters from considering their health history in their application and claiming a disability out of fear of contracting COVID-19 because of those health complications. Vote-by-mail applications in Texas are remarkably simple — voters need only check a box to claim a disability — and that choice cannot be legally scrutinized or investigated by election officials.
The last day to apply for a mail ballot (received and not postmarked) is Friday, October 23, 2020.
Photo: Steven White/Getty Images
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org