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Of course they have voted by mail

It should surprise no one that the three main opponents to an expansion of voting by mail have all voted by mail themselves in past elections.

Three of Texas’ top Republican leaders are vigorously fighting efforts to expand mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, arguing it will lead to increased voter fraud, yet all three have themselves cast absentee ballots at least once in past elections.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — then a state senator — voted by mail in 2007 for a May Houston municipal election and an ensuing runoff, though Harris County records show his first mail-in ballot was rejected because of a signature verification issue. Patrick is a regular voter in both local and state elections and favors casting his ballot during the early voting period. He’s been voting in Montgomery County since 2017.

Though he’s a regular in-person voter in Collin County, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton used the voting by mail option to cast a ballot in a 2011 municipal election, according to county records. In recent elections, he’s opted for voting early.

Travis County election records show Gov. Greg Abbott cast a mail-in ballot in a 1997 special election when he was a justice on the Texas Supreme Court. Abbott consistently votes in local and state elections.

Abbott and Patrick and Paxton would no doubt assert that they were taking advantage of a perfectly legal opportunity to use an absentee ballot, and that all those other people are asking for something that the law does not allow. I would say that despite the recent Supreme Court ruling, the law as written is hardly clear and lower courts did not agree with that more narrow interpretation. I would also note that one can have a principled disagreement about what the law says without lying and fearmongering about voting by mail, which has the effect of suppressing turnout and delegitimizing the process. (To be fair, Patrick and Paxton have been far more egregious about this than Abbott has, though he’s hardly uttered a peep in dissent of their noxious views.) As with Donald Trump and his current spokesperson, the impression one gets is “it’s fine for me to do this, but lowlifes like you can’t be trusted with it”. None of this had to be this way.

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7 Comments

  1. Charly Hoarse says:

    Just as they’re all down with the astroturfy Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse while being notable litigants. Where’s that recipe for gander sauce?

  2. brad says:

    My common sense has been disabled listening to our current state leadership and so I just received my mail-in ballot under the ‘disability’ classification that I applied.

  3. Wolfgang says:

    This just in on the mail-in voting front … 6/1/2020 circa 4PM

    (This is the pending appeal from the Sulak temporary injunction order from Travis County. The SCOTX only nixed the interim order that sought to keep the Sulak injunction in place. They appeal remains pending).

    Order filed June 1, 2020.

    In The
    Fourteenth Court of Appeals
    ____________
    NO. 14-20-00358-CV
    ____________
    STATE OF TEXAS, Appellant
    V.
    TEXAS DEMOCRATIC PARTY, GILBERTO HINOJOSA, IN HIS
    CAPACITY AS CHAIRMAN OF THE TEXAS DEMOCRATIC
    PARTY, JOSEPH DANIEL CASCINO AND SHANDA MARIE
    SANSING, Appellees

    On Appeal from the 201st District Court
    Travis County, Texas
    Trial Court Cause No. D-1-GN-20-001610

    ORDER

    On June 1, 2020, Appellees filed a motion to extend the time to file their brief
    until June 15, 2020. The court orders the State of Texas to file a response to this
    motion by 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

    PER CURIAM

    Panel consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Zimmerer and Poissant.

  4. mollusk says:

    Motions to extend are exceptionally routine in the Courts of Appeals – particularly now – and are just as routinely granted.

  5. Wolfgang says:

    “exceptionally routine”
    – Love that oxymoron! Thanx for adding a note of levity to the stream of grim news and images, not to mention the coming of martial law.
    I will add it to my repertoire.

  6. brda says:

    Wolf,

    “coming of martial law”?

    Excellent…a reverse Jade Helm…but with the alt-right in the driver’s seat to round up leftie political dissidents, instead of Obama rounding up right-wingers back in 2015.

    Its like ping pong depending on who is the President at the time.

    I wonder how Abbott will respond to Trump’s aggression to Texas sovereignty?

  7. Wolfgang says:

    SUPREME GUIDANCE AFTERMATH – HOUSTON ARENA

    AG’s RESPONSE TO APPELLEES’ MOTION FOR AN EXTENSION OF TIME

    To The Honorable Fourteenth Court Of Appeals:

    Pursuant to this Court’s order of June 1, 2020, Intervenor-Appellant, the State of Texas, files this response to Appellees’ motion for an extension of time to file a response brief. The State ordinarily does not oppose reasonable extension requests, and the State would not object if the Court were to decide, as a matter of managing its own docket, to depart from its previous order that “[n]o motions to extend time to file briefs will be entertained.” Order, State of Texas v. Texas Democratic Party, No. 14-20-00358-CV (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] May 12, 2020). But doing so is unnecessary because the parties do not “require time to confer on the proper procedural handling of this appeal.” Mot. ¶ 8.

    Although Appellees may need more time to think about procedure, the State does not. The Texas Supreme Court has confirmed the State’s view of the relevant law and thereby resolved the dispositive issue in this lawsuit.

    Appellees’ one claim was based on their assertion that fear of, or lack of immunity to, COVID-19 constitutes a disability under section 82.002, “allow[ing] any eligible voter, regardless of age and physical condition, to request, receive and have counted, a mail-in ballot, if they believe they should practice social distancing in order to hinder the known or unknown spread of a virus or disease.” ROA.11. The Texas Supreme Court has now stated that it “agree[s] with the State that a voter’s lack of immunity to COVID-19, without more, is not a ‘disability’ as defined by the Election Code.” In re State of Texas, No. 20-0394, 2020 WL 2759629, *1 (Tex. May 27, 2020) (emphasis added).

    Because that holding is binding on this Court and resolves the Appellees’ only claim (and also blocks their only route around sovereign immunity), the next procedural steps are clear: Appellees should dismiss their suit, or this Court should render judgment for the State. Neither the parties nor the Court should have to waste time preparing or reviewing additional briefing to confirm that.

    The parallel litigation in federal court does not alter this reality. The federal suit
    involves claims based on issues of federal or constitutional law that Plaintiffs expressly disclaimed in the state trial court below. 3.RR.137. As a result, whatever the Fifth Circuit decides on the State’s pending motion for a stay or on the merits, nothing remains for this Court to adjudicate.

    Notwithstanding that the next steps in this action are clear, on May 29, Appellees requested a phone call with undersigned counsel for the State. Without taking a position on the need for such a call, counsel for the State advised that she could be available any day this week other than Monday, June 1, when she was presenting oral argument in another case. No such conference has yet been held, and it is not necessary.

    Prayer

    The Court should vacate the trial court’s injunction for the reasons stated in Intervenor-Appellant’s opening brief, which have now been confirmed by the Texas Supreme Court. The Court should render judgment for the State without further briefing and deny Appellees’ motion for an extension of time as either expressly forbidden by previous order or moot.

    Ken Paxton
    Attorney General of Texas

    FULL OF RESPECT OR OTHERWISE, I BEG TO DISAGREE WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL D/B/A THE STATE OF TEXAS AND HAVE SOME QUESTIONS FOR THE FOLKS BETTER VERSED IN ALL THINGS APPELLATE:

    1. Do the four separate un-tiled “writings” (Guzman) amount to an OPINION, i.e. legal authority?

    2. Does the Supremes’ “guidance we have provided here” (Hecht) amount to binding precedent, or does it no more than steer the Erie guessing in the Fifth Circuit in the desired direction?

    3. Is the majority guidance-writing that DENIED mandamus relief even legally binding on the respondent election clerks who had no authority to investigate or even second-guess claims of “disability” for absentee-ballot purposes, and had done nothing wrong?

    4. Where was the predicate nonfeasance (failure to perform a ministerial duty imposed by law) to provide a legal and factual basis to render an Election Code mandamus against the early election clerks non-frivolous (ie, a good-faith filing)?

    5. Does the Supreme guidance-writing amount to an impermissible advisory opinion?

    6. Can a party be legally bound by the court’s disposition when the party (here the Texas Democratic Party) was deliberately excluded from the proceeding, and the opposing party (the Attorney General, claiming to represent the interests of the The State of Texas) obtained a ruling against innocent third parties (early election clerks) who were impressed into stand-in & strawman duty in the real opposing parties’ absence?

    7. Was it an unconstitutional denial of DUE PROCESS for the Attorney General to seek relief from the high court in an EX PARTE manner? – EX PARTE with respect to his litigation opponents in the pending Travis County and federal district court suits?

    8. What about the “third parties” that Ken Paxton has threatened with criminal prosecution for promoting voting by mail in times of pandemic? How can their First Amendment claims as private non-governmental parties be mooted when they, too, were not made parties while the Attorney General’s threat against them continues?

    9. How could Scott Brister have verbally waived the nongovernmental parties’ First Amendment claims at oral argument when he only represented the Harris County Clerk? And what about the different positions taken by other election clerks, and non-consent to the litigation proposition that a high-court mandamus proceeding is a legitimate substitute for a declaratory judgment action against the correct parties in the proper trial court?

    10. Were the thwarted Plaintiffs and Plaintiff-aligned Intervenors denied their constitutional right to be heard in the supreme on-line Zoom session after being relegated to amicus curiae status?