Texas Supreme Court: Harris County cannot send mail ballot applications to all voters

The Texas Supreme Court ruled that Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins cannot send Vote-by-Mail applications along with educational information and instructions to the 1.9 million registered Harris County voters under the age of 65. Clerk Hollins sent Vote-by-Mail applications to registered voters 65 years of age and older —– who are automatically eligible to vote by mail –– in July and once more in September.

“It is disappointing that the Court has sided with political forces seeking to limit voter access this November,” said Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins. 

Chris Hollins

“Placing limitations on non-partisan outreach that educates citizens about their Constitutional right to vote should not be acceptable in a democracy.”

“This is the second blow to Texas voters in less than a week –– first, the Governor endangered millions of seniors and voters with disabilities by limiting counties to a single in-person mail ballot drop-off location.  In a county like Harris County, which stretches over nearly 2,000 square miles, it’s clear that the Governor’s intent is to ensure that seniors and voters with disabilities will stay home this November. And now the Supreme Court is siding with political forces who wish to sow confusion about voters’ eligibility to vote by mail. Democracy requires us to ensure that every registered voter has accurate, timely information about their voting options. This is especially important now, when the global pandemic is threatening our lives and livelihoods, making voting by mail the safest way for millions of Texans to cast their ballot.”

Texas is one of five states that has not expanded Vote-by-Mail options due to COVID-19 concerns. Texas voters who meet the following criteria are eligible to Vote by Mail:

  • Those 65 or older by Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.
  • Those who will be outside of Harris County for all of the Early Voting period (Oct. 13 – Oct. 30) and on Election Day (Nov. 3).
  • Those confined in jail but otherwise eligible to vote.
  • Those who are sick, pregnant, or have a physical condition that creates a likelihood of injury to their health if they vote in person.Eligible registered voters in Texas can apply to Vote by Mail anytime. Applications must be received (not postmarked) by the Harris County Clerk no later than Friday, Oct. 23, to receive a mail ballot for the November General Election. Voters can track their application and mail ballot by visiting www.harrisvotes.com/tracking and entering in their information.“We will remain committed to our charge to educate all registered voters in Harris County about safe voting options,” said Clerk Hollins. “We urge all voters to be aware of eligibility requirements before submitting an application for a mail-in ballot.”