With litigation pending, Harris County Clerk’s Office in process of sending out applications for ballots by mail to voters over 65

FILE - In this July 7, 2020, file photo a woman wearing gloves drops off a mail-in ballot at a drop box in Hackensack, N.J. With the Trump administration openly trying to undermine mail-in voting this fall, some election officials around the country are hoping to bypass the Postal Service by installing lots of ballot drop boxes in libraries, community centers and other public places. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File) (Seth Wenig, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – The state of Texas filed lawsuit against Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins Monday in an effort to stop him from sending ballot by mail applications to all 2.4 million registered voters in the county.

”This blatant violation of law undermines our election security and integrity and cannot stand. I will continue to fight for safe, fair, and legal elections across the state,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.

Hollins told KPRC 2 he is confident the law is on his side.

“These legal challenges are totally unfounded. And not based in any real understanding of Texas law. We’ve been assured by the County Attorney’s office that what we’re doing is a furthering of our duty as the election administrator in Harris County,” he said.

According to Hollins’ spokesperson, Elizabeth Lewis, the clerk’s office had already started sending mail-in ballots to those who are 65 and older, but with the new litigation now underway, the office had decided to hold off on sending applications to all registered voters.

Lewis said the clerk’s office had not yet started the process of mailing ballots to everyone, and they will wait to do so until the judge has made a decision.

Hollins says he wants to mail the applications because, by law, he must make vote-by-mail applications available to the public but due to the coronavirus pandemic, his office is currently closed to the public, except by appointment.

“If it’s my office’s duty to share these forms with the public, then we’re going to share these forms with the public, along with guidance that lets them know very clearly who’s eligible to vote by mail and who’s not,” he said.

Dissenters of Hollins’ move include the Harris County Republican Party, which filed a petition Sunday with the Texas Supreme Court to stop Hollins. The county GOP says Hollins’ plan could lead people to misuse or abuse the vote-by-mail privilege.

“We need to maintain the integrity of the voting system, and we need to have a clerk who’s going to follow the law,” said attorney Jared Woodfill, who is representing the Harris County Republican Party.

In Texas, you are eligible to vote by mail if:

  • You will be away from the county of residence on Election Day and during the early voting period
  • You are sick or disabled
  • You are 65 years of age or older on Election Day
  • You are confined in jail, but eligible to vote

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