Elections have consequences and one of the most obvious consequences of the 2018 election in Harris County, Texas (Houston) was the sweep of county officeholders for Democrats. Harris County is the third-largest county in the United States. The political party that controls it matters.
The new county clerk, Democrat Chris Hollins, is doing what other Democrats are doing across the country. He is encouraging Houstonians to vote by mail in the November election. He not only supports voting by mail but he is doubling down on his efforts to accomplish that goal. This week his office announced that it will send out mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters in Harris County. There are more than 2.4 million residents on its voter roll. What could possibly go wrong?
Hollins sent out mail-in ballot applications to every registered voter aged 65 or older earlier this summer for the July primary run-off races. That wasn’t as radical of a move because people 65 and older qualify for mail-in voting in any election. Since times are different now because of the coronavirus and lockdowns, it seemed like a sensible thing to do. So, since Hollins was pleased with the success of that initiative, he has decided to ramp it up and include every registered voter.
Since the coronavirus spread to Texas, concerns about voting in the November election have been a focus for county officials. Texas has specific qualifications for eligibility for a mail-in ballot. The voter must be 65 years of age or older, out of the county during the voting period, in jail but still eligible to vote, or ill or disabled. Democrats have been working diligently to include fears of the coronavirus into the illness requirement. The fear of catching the virus at a polling place is enough for Democrats to claim that this qualifies as a reason to get a mail-in ballot to use. Legal challenges continue.
For the July primary elections, Hollins thought voters should be able to cast ballots online because of the coronavirus. That idea was shot down. Never mind that Harris County has never done online voting and isn’t set up to handle that. So, he persists.
Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins has said he was encouraged by the county’s return rate ahead of the July primary runoff election when it sent applications to every registered voter who was 65 or older. Typically, voters must print out or request applications for ballots by mail from the county or the state and deliver or mail them to their local elections office. In between the March primary election and the July primary runoff, the county saw a more than 100% increase in vote-by-mail applications, Hollins said.
“If you’re eligible to vote by mail, we want you to vote by mail. It’s safest for you. It’s safest for all your neighbors,” Hollins said in a previous interview, arguing that every additional mail-in voter would make the election safer for those voting in person because they’d have to stand behind one less voter who could potentially infect them. “Voting by mail is the safest way to vote, and all those who are eligible to vote should strongly consider casting their vote in that manner — not only for themselves but as a service, a duty to other residents.”
Not all voters who apply for mail-in ballots will be eligible under the traditional requirements. This mass-mailing scheme has disaster written all over it. People are going to assume they qualify for mail-in voting because they receive an application. Moving ahead with his own agenda – and that of the county Democrats – is not the way to run an election with integrity.
Hollins has also sent a letter to Governor Abbott that requests extending the deadline by which county election administrators can receive mail-in ballots. Hollins is taking advantage of the conspiracy theory that Democrats are scaring voters with – that President Trump is suppressing their vote and using the USPS to do it.
Voter turn-out is expected to be strong in November. The county is preparing by doing it the right way – additional polling places, increasing the number of poll workers, and an extension of early voting days. That is a legitimate way of handling the needs of an election. There will even be drive-through locations for voting. The Commissioners Court has approved additional money to fund Hollins’ “ambitious election plan”.
Harris County voters this November will have more time and more than a hundred additional places to cast ballots in the presidential election, including drive-through locations and one day of 24-hour voting, under an expansive plan approved by Commissioners Court Tuesday.
With the additional polling locations, an extra week of early voting and up to 12,000 election workers, Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins is pledging a smooth November election.
On a 3-2 vote, the court agreed to spend an additional $17.1 million — all but about $1 million to come from federal CARES Act dollars — to fund Hollins’s ambitious election plan. The money is on top of the $12 million the court approved earlier this year to expand mail-in voting amid fears that in-person balloting could spread the coronavirus during the ongoing pandemic.
The clerk’s plan includes extended early balloting hours, including multiple nights to 10 p.m. and one 24-hour voting session, drive-through options, as well as new equipment to process an expected record number of mail ballots.
There are plans in place that make voting as safe as possible in November. This is an unnecessary, wasted expense for voters that will not allow the Democrats to get the result they want – universal mail-in voting in Texas. Never let a crisis go to waste and let the taxpayer pay for it, amirite?