Photo: Yi-Chin Lee, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer
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The fight over mail-in ballots is getting ugly in Texas.
In a new legal twist, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit to prevent Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins from sending unsolicited mail-in ballot applications to more than two million registered voters, according to a Monday statement released by Paxton.
The mailings are a “blatant violation” of Texas election laws, Paxton said in the statement, because they are reserved for only few limited categories of voters.
“Under Texas election law, mail-in ballots are reserved for a few limited categories of qualified voters who are age 65 and older and voters who are disabled,” the statement reads.
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If you think that contracting COVID-19 qualifies as “disabled,” that doesn’t stand with the Texas Supreme Court. Earlier this year, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the fear of contracting COVID-19 does not qualify as a disability.
Paxton added that the move to mass mail ballots would “sow confusion” because applications would go to all registered voters, no matter whether they qualify for mail-in balloting or whether they even prefer to vote by mail.
“Election officials have a duty to reject mail-in ballot applications from voters who are not eligible to vote by mail,” Paxton said in the statement “Unfortunately, instead of protecting the integrity of our democratic process, the Harris County Clerk decided to knowingly violate election laws by preparing to send over two million ballot applications to many Texans who do not qualify and have not requested to vote by mail.”
In response to this growing legal fight, Hollins defended his actions, saying in an emailed statement “our lines of communication are open.”
Read on HoustonChronicle.com: Paxton sues to halt Harris County’s plan to send all voters a mail ballot application
“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.
Gov. Greg Abbott echoed Ken Paxton’s concerns about Harris County’s mail-in balloting.
“Harris County’s scheme can lead to voter fraud and compromise election results,” Abbott tweeted.
Texans who are younger than 65 can normally apply for mail-in ballots if they’re out of their home country or incarcerated during the voted period.
Texans, if you have not registered to vote, you still have until Oct. 5 to do so. Visit the VoteTexas website from the Office of the Texas Secretary of State for more information.