Texas politician sends ballot requests by mail but helped ban election officials’ practice | Nation

A senior Texas official who championed a bill making it a crime for officials to send unsolicited mail-in ballot requests is doing just that ahead of the March primary election.

An unsolicited letter bearing the official seal of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and including a request to vote by mail was recently received by a resident of Edgecliff Village. Senate Bill 1, an omnibus election law passed last year, prohibits election officials from sending nominations to voters who have not requested them, but allows candidates and political parties to send the forms .

Supporters of the bill have said it is necessary to strengthen the integrity of the election, although opponents say the law creates obstacles at the polls. There was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 general election.

“Anyone aged 65 and over has won the right to vote by mail,” the letter says. “As Republicans, we have fought to make it easier to vote while protecting the integrity of the election, so we need to make sure we increase our turnout by taking full advantage of this convenient and secure voting option.”

The letter later continues, “The Democrats are bragging again that they’re going to turn Texas blue, and I’m not going to let that happen!”

In Texas, voters can vote by mail if they are 65 or older, disabled or ill, expected to give birth around the election, should have left the county, or are in jail but otherwise eligible.

The letter praises Patrick and the work of the Texas Senate during the legislative session on issues such as “election integrity reform”, border security, education, health care and the electrical network. He also notes that Patrick endorsed State Representative Phil King in his bid for the Texas Senate. King is running in Senate District 10, which after the last round of redistricting includes parts of Tarrant and Johnson counties and all of Johnson, Palo Pinto, Stephens, Shackelford, Callahan and Brown counties.

The letter encourages recipients to complete their applications so that “we can elect these strong leaders and crush the Democrats in 2022!”

“We must stop the Biden administration’s destructive policies — open borders, anti-life, anti-Second Amendment, and spending billions of dollars that will raise your taxes,” the letter reads.

New Texas election law makes it a felony in state prison for ‘an election official or official’ to solicit ‘the submission of a mail-in ballot request from a person who has not requested request” or “distributing a request to vote by mail to a person who did not request the request.”

However, the law specifies that the law does not apply to civil servants acting in their “capacity as a candidate for public elective office”.

Patrick’s office and campaign did not return requests for comment on Monday.

He was a strong supporter of the election bill signed into law in September and pushed back against the expansion of mail-in voting. In May 2020, he said expanding readability to include people under 65 amid the pandemic would lead to voter fraud.

Brandon Rottinghaus, a professor of political science at the University of Houston, said the design of the letter would appear to most as an official letter from the Lieutenant Governor of Texas.

“The mix of campaign and official duties is often very unclear on this post,” he said in a text. Rottinghaus added, “The irony is that new state election laws have made it harder to vote by mail, but candidates continue to encourage their supporters to vote that way.”

U.S. Representative Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, came under fire last week for sending nominations to voters 65 and older, according to The Texas Tribune. The practice is not uncommon for candidates and political parties.

“It was a decision of the state legislature. …,” Crenshaw’s campaign spokesman Justin Discigil told the outlet. “Dan didn’t write the bill.”

The Texas Democratic Party announced in January that it was sending “hundreds of thousands” of mail-in ballot requests to Texans 65 and older.

“We do what the state of Texas doesn’t: We make voting as easy as possible,” Texas Democratic Party Director of Voter Protection Rose Clouston said in a statement at the time. “Our goal is to make sure all eligible Texans have the opportunity to vote.”

A spokesperson for the Texas Ethics Commission said it is not commenting on any set of facts that may be submitted to the commission.

Since the law took effect, absentee ballots have been rejected due to missing driver’s license numbers or social security numbers, including in Tarrant County. The new law requires voters to include their driver’s license number, the last four digits of their Social Security number, or a statement that they cannot provide either number on their application. The number must match the number used when registering to vote.

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