State of Texas v. Hollins (Supreme Court of Texas; Court of Appeals, 14th Judicial District of Texas, 2020)

Civil Liberties

State Supreme Court ,

State Appellate Court ,

Civil Liberties

At issue in this case is a plan by the Harris County Clerk to send ballot-by-mail applications and voting information to all 2.4 million registered voters in Harris County. The Texas Attorney General sued to block this plan, arguing that the planned mailing exceeded the County Clerk’s authority. ADL’s Southwest regional office and the Texas NAACP, represented by the Brennan Center, filed a brief defending the authority of the Harris County Clerk.

Following a district judge ruling in State of Texas vs. Chris Hollins that the state of Texas may not prevent Chris Hollins, the Harris County Clerk, from sending election materials and resources, including ballot-by-mail applications, to all of the county’s registered voters. The State appealed the decision, and on Sept. 18 the Fourteenth Court of Appeals reaffirmed the denial of the State’s request for a preliminary injunction in the case. The State then appealed to the Supreme Court of Texas.

On September 25, 2020, ADL Southwest region and the Texas NAACP — represented by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law and Dechert LLP — submitted a brief to the Supreme Court of Texas in support of Harris County Clerk, Chris Hollins, and the lower court decision, emphasizing the overwhelming benefits of sending ballot-by-mail applications to all registered voters and the lack of evidence provided by the State that such a mailing would cause fraud or increased confusion. The brief argues that such a mailing will educate voters and reduce confusion and provide easier access to a safe method of voting for high-risk populations for COVID-19. The brief also argues that it would benefit voters by encouraging those who are eligible for mail ballots to submit their applications early, reducing the likelihood of surges in applications that could slow down processing, and by providing accurate information and guidance to voters.