Harris County's interim clerk is inspiring a new Republican-led effort in Austin to ban local election officials from mailing absentee ballot applications to all voters.
Houston state Sen. Paul Bettencourt says SB 208 would prevent another Chris Hollins from wasting taxpayer dollars on an illegal scheme to flood the system with mail-in ballots.
“Taxpayers' money is not being well-spent when they're literally shredding these applications because they don't win a court case,” he says.
If passed, Bettencourt says SB 208 would codify the Texas Supreme Court's ruling against Hollins.
“It makes it real clear of why we can't being doing this experimentation, especially in close national elections,” he says. “It's not a lab. It's a democracy. That's why we pass bills in the state house and senate.”
Harris County Democrats used the pandemic to approve millions of dollars to print mail-in ballots for two million registered voters. Less than half that actually went out. The rest were supposed to be destroyed.
“It was somebody that came in that was appointed as an interim. That clearly wasn't planning on staying a day after the canvas was actually certified,” says Bettencourt. “We should be following the state election code and having a debate about these things in the state legislature.”