Bettencourt Files SB 208 to Prohibit Election Officials from Sending Unsolicited Absentee Ballot Apps

Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) along with 4 joint-authors, Senator Brain Birdwell (RGranbury) Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), Senator Bob Hall (R-Rockwall) and Senator Kel Seliger (RLubbock) file legislation to codify a recent Texas Supreme court ruling and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s interpretation of the law, that would stop election officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications to all registered voters regardless of their eligibility. Representative Valoree Swanson (R-Houston) also filed the companion bill in the House, HB25. “We must recognize the obvious that we didn’t need to mail 2M+ absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in Harris County to have a record 11.2 Million Texas voters cast their ballots in November,” said Senator Bettencourt. “This bill SB 208 is about making sure all votes in Texas are counted legally,” he continued.

In October, the Texas Supreme Court ruled former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins could NOT send absentee ballot forms to all registered voters as it would undercut the secretary of state’s duty to “maintain uniformity” in Texas’ elections. The Secretary of State also asked for a “immediate halt” of this action as Keith Ingram, Director of Elections, noted such action is “contrary to our office’s guidance on this issue and an abuse of
voters rights under Texas Election Code Section 31.005.”

“Sending 2M+ absentee ballot applications to all registered voters would have certainly caused more voter confusion as 95% of these recipients would not have qualified for an absentee ballot under Texas Election Law in the first place,” said Senator Bettencourt. “It is important to note that the 66.2% turnout in 2020 was without wasting taxpayer money by doing shotgun mailings to everyone on the voter roll,” added Bettencourt.

Senator Bettencourt spoke out immediately about this issue on August 27th and 28th calling for Secretary of State and Attorney General review and announced he would be filing legislation to stop this confusion from happening in the future. (See more: https://bit.ly/2GGrPfQ & https://bit.ly/3denMUb)

“We must do all we can to ensure election integrity and uniformity among all counties during the voting process,” said Senator Bettencourt. SB 208 is among several pieces of legislation Senator Bettencourt will be filing on election integrity in the 87th Legislative Session.