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Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocks Harris County from sending mail-in ballot applications to all its voters

The Harris County Republican Party had sued to stop the sending of the ballots.
Credit: KHOU
We’ve got more than two months until you can vote in the November election, but if you’re doing it by mail, Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins says you can start your civic duty today.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Supreme Court has temporarily blocked Harris County from sending mail-in ballot applications to all its voters for the November election.

The decision Wednesday came in response to a lawsuit filed days ago by Republicans in the state’s largest county. Attorney General Ken Paxton has since launched his own legal challenge to the plan.

Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins announced last month that the county would send applications to its more than 2.4 million registered voters, an effort to make it easier to participate in the election due to the coronavirus pandemic. After being sued by Paxton, Hollins said he would only send applications to voters 65 and older, who are currently eligible to vote by mail under state law, pending the litigation.

The Harris County GOP lawsuit alleges 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." The lawsuit was brought by the county party, conservative activist Steve Hotze and judicial candidate Sharon Hemphill.

The uproar over the Harris County plan is the latest front in the battle over mail voting during the pandemic in Texas. Democrats and voting rights advocates have been pushing in the courts to allow more people to vote by mail, an option that is currently limited to those who are 65 and older, disabled, confined in jail but otherwise eligible, or out of their county during early vote and Election Day.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of the Harris County clerk in one instance. It's Chris Hollins, not Chris Collins.

This story was originally published at TexasTribune.orgThe Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. 

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