A major voting rights scandal erupted on Thursday when the Texas Tribune reported Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick delayed thousands of mail-in ballot applications by sending them to the Texas secretary of state’s office instead of local election officials.
Patrick claims he did this to comfort GOP voters who do not trust local Democratic election officials. The campaign mailing effort by Patrick included an envelope for voters to send their mail ballot application to the Texas secretary of state’s office, who only ended up returning the applications to where they were supposed to go. Some of those ballots were delayed and others never made it back, according to the Tribune.
In a statement, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said the move has the potential to keep thousands of Texans from voting.
“This is one of the many significant offenses we are experiencing in Texas due to Republican leadership of our state,” Hinojosa said. “Over the last year, Texas Republicans have done everything possible to make voting more difficult for Texans. Greg Abbott and Texas Republicans have continuously blocked our efforts to ensure all voters have the same opportunity to participate in our election process.”
As part of Senate Bill 1, the sweeping GOP legislation that has made it harder to vote, elected officials are prohibited from sending out unsolicited mail ballot applications — a law passed in direct response to former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins who attempted to send mail-in ballot applications to the county’s 2.4 million registered voters.
Opponents of Patrick also jumped at the opportunity to criticize the incumbent lieutenant governor for the move.
“The people of Texas deserve to know whether the Texas Secretary of State changed the rules for Dan Patrick and whether other applications — not solicited by Dan Patrick — were rejected prior to the rule change,” said Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor Mike Collier. “It seems that rules are always being redesigned to make it more difficult for voters in the state’s largest counties but ignored when it favors the Texas GOP.”
State Rep. Michelle Beckley, another opponent of Patrick, said Senate Bill 1 is doing what it was designed to do and suppresses everyone including Republican voters.
“What is even more obscene is the hypocrisy of two Republican officials conspiring to fix Dan Patrick’s mistake,” Beckley said. “The Secreatory of State — who was one of Trump’s lawyers in his ‘Big Lie’ lawsuits seeking to overturn the votes of Americans — is covering up the incompetence of Dan Patrick.”
Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
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