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Ken Paxton Seeks Injunction Against Harris County Over Mail-In Ballot Applications

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On Monday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) filed a lawsuit in state district court against Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins (D), seeking a restraining order and injunction against a plan to send Harris County voters roughly 2 million applications for absentee ballots.

The lawsuit comes after the Director of Elections for the Texas Secretary of State, Keith Ingram, sent Hollins a letter last week ordering Hollins to stop the program – giving him a deadline of midday Monday before taking legal action.

“As you know, the Texas Election Code requires that voters have a qualifying reason to vote by mail. They must be 65 years or older, disabled, out of the county while voting is occurring, or confined in jail but otherwise eligible to vote. Not every voter in Harris County may satisfy one or more of these requirements.” Ingram wrote.

“By sending applications to all voters, including many who do not qualify for voting by mail, your office may cause voters to provide false information on the form. Your action thus raises serious concerns under Texas Election Code Section 84.0041(a)(1), (2).”

Hollins responded over the weekend, issuing a statement describing how they claim to remedy the legality of the plan by including notices in the ballot applications informing the voter of what the legal qualifications are to vote by mail and then leaving the decision up to the voter.

The response signaled the county’s intent not to comply with the order to stop – with Hollins offering to further “discuss the matter.”

In the suit filed by Paxton’s office, the state argued that sending the ballot applications will “create confusion, facilitate fraud” and that it was an illegal act that “exceeds his statutory authority.”

The Texas Election Code provides that county election officials shall mail out a ballot application at the request of a voter. However, Paxton’s suit points out there is no statutory authority for county election officials like Hollins to send voters ballot applications who didn’t request one.

Paxton weighed in on the suit in a statement saying, “This blatant violation of law undermines our election security and integrity and cannot stand.”He continued to say he will continue to “fight for safe, fair, and legal elections across the state.”

Paxton’s suit is the second suit filed against Hollins’ office over the ballot application plan today, with the Harris County GOP along with several conservative activists who have already filed a petition before the Texas Supreme Court this morning. The suit also asks the high court to order Harris County to stop.

Readers can view a copy of the suit brought against Hollins by Attorney General Paxton’s office here.

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