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Texas GOP Group Asks State Supreme Court to Stop Most Populous County from Voting Early Because of ‘Ballot Harvesting Scheme’

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

The Harris County GOP and a slew of Republican activists on Monday asked the Texas Supreme Court to issue an emergency order preventing citizens in the state’s most populous county from taking advantage of the extended early voting periods ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott (R). The petition for a writ of mandamus was filed in response to the Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins announcing that voters could begin hand-delivering absentee ballots for the presidential election to one of 11 annexes on Monday, Sept. 28.

The petitioners alleged that the extended voting period was facilitating a “ballot harvesting program” the group “recently uncovered” that is directly connected to the Biden campaign, though they did not appear to include evidence in support of that assertion beyond statements attributed to a pair of private investigators and several unnamed”witnesses.”

The filing claimed there are “documents corroborating an illegal ballot harvesting operation in Harris County, Texas.”

The crux of the complaint centers around § 86.006(a-1) of the Texas Election Code, which states that a voter may deliver a marked mail ballot in-person to the early voting clerk’s office “only while the polls are open on election day.” However, Gov. Abbott’s July executive order explicitly placed a hold on that law as part of health protocols needed to conduct elections safely during the pandemic.

“I further suspend Section 86.006(a-1) of the Texas Election Code, for any election ordered or authorized to occur on November 3, 2020, to the extent necessary to allow a voter to deliver a marked mail ballot in person to the early voting clerk’s office prior to and including on election day,” the order stated.

But according to the petitioners, which includes litigious conservative activist Steven Hotze, the Supreme Court must order the county to cease accepting ballots because doing so is “promoting” a massive “ballot harvesting scheme to the Biden/Harris campaign” that was recently uncovered by private investigators.

“As Harris County goes, so too will Texas. Accordingly, investigators have linked the ballot harvesting scheme to the Biden/Harris campaign. Based on interviews, review of documents, and other information, [investigator Captain Mark Aguirre has] identified the individuals in charge of the ballot harvesting scheme,” the filing stated, citing to an accompanying affidavit from Aguirre.

In his affidavit, Aguirre claims to have “video-taped interviews of witnesses attesting to the aforementioned people having groups of people completing thousands of absentee and mail-in ballots” and concluding that the “entire operation is being run by the elite politicians of the Democrat Party in Houston/Harris County.”

Despite their evidence of massive fraud appearing to consist only of allegations from witnesses who were not under oath or even named in the filing, the petitioners urged the state Supreme Court to order an end to early voting in Harris County.

“Election fraud, particularly an organized mail ballot fraud scheme orchestrated by elected officials and political operatives, compromise the integrity of the voting process and disenfranchises voters who lawfully cast their ballot,” the petition stated. “To achieve this goal, it is incumbent upon this Court to order Hollins to follow the Texas Election Code. Those who try to manipulate the outcome of elections in Texas must be held accountable. Unfortunately, Respondent and Governor Abbott have created an environment that is contrary to this goal.”

Hillary Clinton won Harris County by 12.38-percent in 2016; President Donald Trump won Texas by 9.2-percent.

Read the full filing below:

Harris Cnty GOP Motion for Stay by Law&Crime on Scribd

[image via Tom Fox/Pool/Getty Images.]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.