Court rules Harris County Clerk can send out vote-by-mail applications

If the Harris County District Court’s decision stands, the Harris County Clerk’s Office says more than 1.9 million registered voters under the age of 65 will receive vote-by-mail applications with educational and eligibility information.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins last week to prevent him from sending out the applications.

On Friday, the District Court ruled that the county can move forward with the plan. The court said there is no election code provision that limits an early voting clerk’s ability to send a vote-by-mail application to a registered vote.

Soon after the court’s decision, AG Paxton appealed the court’s order denying its motion for temporary injunction.

To be eligible to vote by mail in Texas, you must:

 • Be 65 years or older

 • Be disabled

 • Be out of the county on Election Day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance; or

 • Be confined in jail, but otherwise eligible.

Eligible registered voters in Texas can apply to vote by mail at any time. Applications must be received by the Harris County Clerk (not postmarked) no later than Friday, Oct. 23, for eligible voters to receive a mail ballot for the November General Election. Voters can also drop off applications in person to any one of our 11 Harris County Clerk office locations.

Civil rights groups applauded the decision made by the court. 

“As the Court recognized, the Harris County Clerk is acting in his authority by making it easier for people to exercise their right to vote, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Anjali Salvador, staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “Especially in these difficult times, the state should not be trying to stop counties from educating and empowering voters.”

“This is a victory for Harris County voters!” said Grace Chimene, president of the League of Women Voters Texas. “During this pandemic, voters must be able to assess their own health circumstances and be able to choose whether to vote in person or by mail.”

“I think a lot of Texans are wondering why the state attorney general is wasting taxpayer money on a bogus case whose sole goal is to make it harder to vote,” said Joaquin Gonzalez, attorney at Texas Civil Rights Project.