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Archive for May 20th, 2020

The Houston Food Bank distribution that co-sponsors State Rep. Anna Eastman and Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle help put together served close to 3000 families yesterday evening.  Good job!

This is what the federal judge said yesterday when he ruled that all folks could vote by mail during the pandemic here in the Lone Star state:

“One’s right to vote should not be elusively based on the whims of nature.  Citizens should have the option to choose voting by letter carrier versus voting with disease carriers.”

Here is the deal.  In Texas, there are four ways you can vote by mail. I call it the four excuses: you are 65 or older, you are in jail but have not been convicted of a felony, you are out of the county, or by disability.

On April 2 of this year, just over seven weeks ago, the Texas Secretary of State put out an Election Advisory with this in the subject line:

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Voting and Election Procedures

Here is the first line of the advisory:

The purpose of this advisory is to assist election officials in facilitating voting for individuals that may be affected by COVID-19, and in preparing for the conduct of elections in the context of this public health issue.

On page two of the Advisory, Voting by Mail was addressed, and the four excuses were listed but only the disability excuse was addressed with this:

One of the grounds for voting by mail is disability. The Election Code defines “disability” to include “a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter’s health.” (Sec. 82.002). Voters who meet this definition and wish to vote a ballot by mail must submit an application for ballot by mail.

Upon reviewing the Advisory, State Rep. Eastman directed me to work with the Harris County Clerk’s election officials to develop a vote by mail application to send to all voters based on the Secretary of State’s Advisory. After a few drafts and revisions, that the Secretary of State’s office saw and reviewed, we came up with one that they said, “looks fine to us.”  The last thing we wanted to do was make an investment in an application that would subsequently be rejected by the Harris County Clerk’s and the Secretary of State’s elections folks.

Rep. Eastman’s application included the exact same language on disability from the Secretary of State’s Advisory.

Commentary has posted recently on my Commentary the application for folks to see.

The Texas Election Code says the Texas Secretary of State is the Chief Election Officer of the State of Texas.  The Code does not bestow that title to the Texas Attorney General.

The Secretary of State is also one of the Governor’s more important and high-profile appointments.  I really don’t think that they would have issued the April 2 Advisory without giving the Governor’s folks a heads up of sorts.

Commentary’s opinion is the Chief Elections Officer of the State of Texas wants to give all voters the option to vote by mail during this pandemic.

Commentary stayed up last night to watch online who Harris County Commissioners Court would pick as the Interim Harris County Clerk.  I was surprised by the selection.  This was out of the blue so to speak.  Here is from the Chron today:

Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday appointed an attorney and Texas Democratic Party official as interim county clerk.

Christopher Hollins, vice finance chairman for the state party, will serve until a new clerk can be elected in November. Incumbent Diane Trautman, who was elected in 2018, announced May 9 she would step down because of health issues.

The court voted 3-2 along party lines to approve Hollins. Five public speakers urged court members to choose Teneshia Hudspeth, Trautman’s chief deputy. County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said Hollins’ pledge to serve only on an interim basis factored in their decision.

Hollins was selected after 10 p.m., more than 12 hours after Commissioners Court convened, and was unavailable for comment.

Here is the entire read from the Chron: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Texas-Democratic-Party-official-appointed-interim-15282265.php.

A handful of folks spoke yesterday in favor of Teneshia Hudspeth, Trautman’s deputy, for the interim position.  I don’t recall anyone speaking for Hollins.

My takeaway on this.  By not picking someone from within, the Democrats on Commissioners Court are signaling that they had no confidence in how Trautman ran her shop.  That’s sad.

Bringing in a new Interim County Clerk in the middle of one of the most important elections in our lifetimes is interesting to say the least.  Good luck!

Like I said.  Out of the blue for sure.

On another matter.  Do Commissioners Court meetings have to last more than 12 hours?

I saw some Trump 2020 face masks online. They are not selling.  Trump folks don’t wear masks.

Stay safe today and wear a mask for others.

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