Texas Supreme court rules in favor of early voting orders and against Harris County ballot issue

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Back in late September the Republican Party of Texas sued Governor Abbott over his order to expand early voting by 6 days starting October 13 instead of the originally scheduled date of October 19th.

The Party filed an emergency writ of mandamus petition with the Texas Supreme Court to stop the Texas Secretary of State from carrying out Abbott’s executive order.

Houston Attorney Jared Woodfill filed the suit. “Texas constitution says very clearly that only the legislature can suspend laws,” said Woodfill.  “You compare that to Governor Abbott's orders, time and time again he says he is suspending laws. So what he's chosen to do is ignore the texts constitution and go at it alone.”

On Wednesday the court ruled in favor of Governor Abbott.

In his opinion, Chief Justice Nathan Hecht commented on how it took 10 weeks from the date Governor Abbott issued the order to expand early voting for the relators (Texas GOP, GOP Chair Allen West, and various GOP state lawmakers) to challenge the order. “The Supreme Court HOLDS relators’ delay precludes the consideration their claims require. The election is already underway,” wrote Hecht. “To disrupt the long-planned election procedures as relators would have the Court do would threaten voter confusion.”

The Texas Supreme Court also ruled on a petition filed by the Harris County Republican Party against County Clerk Chris Hollins. The suit sought to prevent Hollins from sending out unsolicited mail-in ballot applications to the 2.4+ million eligible voters in the county.

Back in early September the Court issued a stay blocking the Harris County Clerk’s plan, until the Court held a full hearing on the merits of the case.

The court has now ruled that the Harris County Clerk does not have authority under the State Election Code to send out the mass-mailer.

The Court released the following statement as to why it ruled the way it did: “The Supreme Court HOLDS the Election Code does not authorize an early-voting clerk to send an application to vote by mail to a voter who has not requested one and that a clerk’s doing so results in irreparable injury to the state. Because no other election official in Texas is doing or has ever done what the clerk proposes, his plan threatens to undermine the statutorily required uniform operation of election laws across the state.”