The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins cannot send out 2.4 million mail ballot applications to registered voters.
The Texas Supreme Court is temporarily blocking the effort after a state judge cleared the way for Hollins to send out the applications last week. Now, the Texas Supreme Court says the mail ballot applications must stay put while the appeals court reaches a decision.
“My office works tirelessly to protect the right to vote for the people of Harris County and to promote safe methods for voters to cast their ballots during the ongoing global pandemic,” Hollins said in a statement to the Signal. “With the November election less than fifty days out, it is disheartening to witness the Attorney General engage in childish antics rather than safeguard the voting rights of Texans, but I know the law is on our side.”
Hollins said all vote-by-mail applications to voters in Harris County aged 65 and above have already been sent. He said his office was prepared to send applications and educational materials to remaining registered voters when the litigation ends.
In Texas, only those 65 or older, outside the country, in jail, or with a disability can vote by mail. The Lone Star State is one of only seven states that require an excuse to vote by mail.
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: Harris County Clerk’s Office
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