State Watch

Texas Supreme Court again blocks county from sending mail-in ballot applications to all voters

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The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday again issued a ruling blocking Harris County from sending mail-in ballot applications to all of its more than 2 million registered voters amid an ongoing court battle.

The ruling from the high court granted a request from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) to halt the county’s attempt to send the applications before a separate order barring the mailing was going to expire. The ruling from the all-Republican court orders the county to refrain from sending unsolicited applications “until further order.”

The Supreme Court decision overturned a Friday ruling from a state district judge that allowed Harris County to send the applications, though Paxton, who has argued that sending unsolicited mailings would confuse voters, appealed the case to the high court.

The Tuesday ruling was the second such decision, following an earlier mandate that was set to expire for Harris County to halt mailings. The county is the most populous in Texas.

“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 Paxton. “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.”

Harris County announced earlier this year that it intends to mail applications to every registered voter. Texas law says registered voters in the state automatically qualify for a ballot they can either mail in or drop off.

“Fortunately, all vote-by-mail applications have already been delivered to Harris County voters aged 65 and above. My office is prepared to send applications and educational materials to remaining registered voters at the conclusion of this baseless litigation,” tweeted Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins.

Harris County has already mailed applications for mail-in ballots to registered voters who are seniors. 

The ongoing court fight between Paxton and Harris County is part of a broader battle over mail-in voting in the Lone Star State, with Republicans pushing back against advocates urging Austin to expand the practice during the coronavirus pandemic.

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