67ºF

Texas Supreme Court blocks Harris County Clerk from sending unsolicited ballot-by-mail applications

photo

HOUSTON5:20 p.m. Tuesday update: The Texas Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday preventing Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins from sending ballot by mail applications to all registered voters in Harris County.

The issue has been hotly contested in courts.

“I strongly commend the Texas Supreme Court for stopping the Harris County Clerk from sending millions of mail-in ballot applications, which would create voter confusion and jeopardize the integrity and security of our elections,” said Attorney General Paxton in a release after the Texas Supreme Court order. “The Harris County Clerk knowingly chose to violate Texas election law and undermine election security. I thank the court for preventing the clerk from proceeding with his unlawful plans while this case continues.”

ORIGINAL STORY:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s appeal to last week’s court ruling that allows Harris County to send mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters was denied Tuesday.

According to the decision issued by the 14th Court of Appeals, Paxton’s request for an injunction was denied because Paxton and Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins had reached a previous agreement in the Texas Supreme Court. That agreement is in effect until Thursday.

The appeals court ordered both Paxton and Hollins to submit briefs on the case by 5 p.m. Wednesday, before issuing a final ruling on Paxton’s request.

Hollins has argued that the nature of the coronavirus pandemic means he must ensure voters who are sick can still vote.

Paxton has argued that Hollins has overstepped, and that state law allows for only qualified voters to receive a mail-in ballot application.

In Texas, voters can cast their ballot by mail if:

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

“As surely as night follows day, this case will ultimately be decided in the Texas Supreme Court,” KPRC 2 legal analyst Brian Wice said.

Wice went on to add that based on its batting average in these matters, “The Attorney General’s office will be the prohibitive favorite.”

There are approximately 2.4 million registered voters in Harris County.


About the Authors: