The Texas Supreme Court has temporarily blocked Harris County from sending vote-by-mail applications to all of the county’s registered voters.

However, county officials had already agreed to refrain from sending the applications to voters for the November election due to a separate legal challenge from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

On Monday, Paxton filed a lawsuit against Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, who spearheaded the move to send out the mail-in ballot applications.

Paxton stated that the mailings are a “blatant violation” of Texas election laws, because the applications are only reserved for voters who are 65 and older or disabled. Earlier this year, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the fear of contracting COVID-19 does not qualify as a disability.

After the Texas Supreme Court’s order to stop Harris County, Hollins commented on the decision, emphasizing that the plan to send the mail-in ballot applications is still in the works.

“What the Supreme Court did here was to simply put a stamp on something Harris County has already agreed to do,” Hollins told ABC-13. “We made it clear that we are happy to have our day in court, and that we would be able to send out these applications on our chosen schedule while having our day in court — either this week or early next week. The Supreme Court’s stay merely rubberstamps what we already agreed to do.”

In response to Paxton’s lawsuit, Hollins stated Monday that he was prepared to meet with the Secretary of State about Harris County’s plan.

“If the Secretary of State would take the time to meet with us instead of jumping into court, they would see that the information we plan to share with voters provides clarity about voters’ rights and eligibility to vote by mail,” Hollins said in the statement.

The Harris County Republican Party also joined in the fight against mail-in ballot applications, alleging that Hollins is a “rogue clerk who is abusing the application to vote by mail process and compromising the integrity of elections in Harris County,” according to the Houston Chronicle.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott quickly weighed in about the Texas Supreme Court’s decision to block Harris County’s mail-in ballot application plan.

“Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocks Harris County from sending mail ballot applications to all its voters. What the Democrats are trying is simply against the law. It could lead to election fraud and must be stopped,” Abbott tweeted.

alison.medley@chron.com

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