The Texas Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked efforts by Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins to send vote by mail applications to every registered voter in Harris County. The decision was forced by a lawsuit from indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton, best known for avoiding his own criminal trial at all costs, and is an escalation of the brazen lie the Texas and national GOP has been perpetuating on vote-by-mail.
The move also comes as several Republican candidates and the Texas GOP themselves have blanketed the state with mailers to Republican voters that include vote-by-mail applications.
These mailers are nothing new, in fact senior citizens in Texas with any hint of Republican voter history have probably grown used to seeing them. The Texas GOP spends significant amounts of money every cycle mailing out these applications to voters they suspect are likely Republicans but not very likely voters. The program is decades old, and was pioneered by Karl Rove and other Republican political operatives who saw vote-by-mail as crucial to flipping judicial positions across the state in the early 90’s.
It’s bad enough that a majority of the leaders lying about the safety of mail balloting have voted by mail themselves. President Donald Trump, Governor Greg Abbott and even Paxton himself have voted by mail in the past, while trying to create an artificial distinction between vote-by-mail and absentee ballots, but now they’re also actively doing everything they can to make you believe voting by mail is only safe when they do it, like a drunk frat bro convincing you it’s okay they’ve had an 11th beer because they just have a higher tolerance than most people.
Let’s be clear: we’re talking about the same thing. There is no such thing as an absentee ballot in Texas. You get the same mail ballot senior citizens automatically qualify for. Every Republican in state government should be aware of that: they’ve had a stranglehold on state government for decades, including the committees that craft election law and code.
This is just the latest example of the Texas GOP seeking to create these false divisions and in effort to hold down turnout at any cost. Electoral history has proven that the higher the turnout, the better Democratic performance will be, and polling in Texas has routinely showed Trump underperforming Senator Ted Cruz at the same point in the 2018 Senate race.
Think about that. Polls in September 2018 showed Cruz leading Beto O’Rourke by an average of nearly 7 points. On election day, O’Rourke came within 2.5 points of toppling Cruz. If the same trend holds for Trump, Biden could be on a glide path to a mid-single digit margin of victory, a wave so titanic it would likely help a dozen or more state legislative candidates sweep into office and reclaim a Democratic majority in the Texas Legislature.
Texas Republicans know what the stakes of this election are, and they’re terrified of anyone or anything that will empower more voters to go to the polls. At the Signal, we’ll continue monitoring the Republican attempts to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and also connect you with the resources you need to vote safely, no matter how hard they try to stop you.
Photo: Steven White/Getty Images
Joe brings over a decade of experience as a political operative and creative strategist to Texas Signal, where he serves as our Senior Advisor and does everything from writing a regular column, Musings, to mentoring our staff and freelancers. Joe was campaign manager for Lina Hidalgo's historic 2018 victory for Harris County Judge and is a passionate sneakerhead.