‘This is intentional’: Harris County Clerk addresses Abbott’s order, calls it ‘haphazard’ and voter suppression

Harris County Clerk addresses Abbott’s order, calls it ‘haphazard’ and voter suppression
Harris County Clerk addresses Abbott’s order, calls it ‘haphazard’ and voter suppression

HOUSTON – The Harris County Clerk, Chris Hollins expresses outrage at Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that limits the number of places voters can drop-off their mail-in ballots to one per county.

According to the order, mail ballots can be dropped off in-person at only one place that is designated by each county’s early-voting clerk. For Harris County, that is NRG Arena.

Hollins responded to the order saying, “to force hundreds of thousands of seniors and voters with disabilities to use a single drop-off location in a county that stretches over nearly 2,000 square miles is prejudicial and dangerous.”

The new order will reduce Harris County Drop off locations from 12 to one, a move that Hollins called “haphazard.”

“In a county that is larger in size than the state of Rhode Island, these additional locations meant access for voters who want to ensure that their ballot is properly returned to the clerk’s office,” Hollins said. “...This haphazard decision by Gov. Abbott to change the rules of the game is confusing to voters and will serve to suppress Texas votes.”

Hollins pointed out that some people in the far outskirts of the county will have to drive over 50 miles if they want to drop off their ballot.

“To force hundreds of thousands of seniors and voters with disabilities here in Harris County, and millions of voters across the state of Texas, to use a single drop-off location in these massive counties is not only prejudicial, but it’s dangerous,” Hollins said.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo also called the order “suppression” and said “a political party whose election strategy is to suppress turnout doesn’t deserve to win.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner released a statement on the decision that was in agreement with Hollins' and Hidalgo’s sentiment.

“We should be focused on making voting more accessible and stop trying to create obstacles and distractions with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” Turner said.

Hollins said he encourages anyone who is eligible to vote by mail to submit an application. Voters can track the application and ballot status by using the new ballot tracking system.

“Make no mistake, this is intentional," Hollins said. “This is being done to make it more difficult for you to vote, but I urge you, do not be discouraged. If every voter only takes away one thing from today, I want it to be that your vote is your voice in our democracy.”

According to Hollins, there are over 120 early voting locations across the county. There are also 10 drive-thru voting locations where anyone can cast their vote from the safety of their vehicle. All locations will also offer curbside voting from people with disabilities. Hollins said the county has also planned a day of 24-hour voting so everyone has time to cast their ballot.

Those interesting in still voting by mail but do not or cannot drive to NRG can always send their ballot via traditional mail.

People can find voting locations in Harris County at Harrisvotes.com/locations.

A lawsuit has been filed against Abbott calling his order an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote that will disproportionately impact voters of color in the state’s biggest cities.

Watch the full news conference below:

🔴WATCH LIVE: Harris County Clerk addresses mail-in voting at NRG drop-off location

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Friday, October 2, 2020

About the Author:

Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli has been a digital news editor at KPRC 2 since 2018. She is a published poet and has background in creative writing and journalism. Daniela has covered events like Hurricane Harvey and the Astros World Series win. In her spare time, Daniela is an avid reader and loves to spend time with her two miniature dachshunds.