A Texas grocery store magnate is siding with Democrats, supporting Harris County’s plan to send mail-in ballot applications to all 2.37 million registered voters in the county.

On Thursday, the Texas Supreme Court issued a temporary halt to the plan, led by Democrat Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, while the court considers whether to strike down the program entirely.

Opponents to Harris County’s plan argue that sending applications to all registered voters could cause voters to provide false information on the form, confuse voters about their ability to vote by mail, and impede the ability of those who are able to vote by mail by clogging up the infrastructure with applications from those who do not qualify.

Charles Butt, the billionaire heir to the H-E-B supermarket chain, wrote a letter to the court, pleading with them to uphold Harris County’s plan and arguing for more voters to be given the option to vote by mail in November, using fear of the Chinese coronavirus as an excuse.

“Texas requires an excuse to vote absentee but, as your Court has recently held, does not permit election officials to second-guess a voter’s exercise of that option,” said Butt. “Thus, Clerk Hollins’s effort to make absentee ballots widely available trusts voters, protecting those who are vulnerable from unnecessary exposure in this new Covid world in which we’re living.”

“Based on our experience at H-E-B, many people, including those of all ages, are nervous about contracting the virus. By extension, in my opinion, many would be anxious about voting in person.”

Butt’s argument is in line with legal efforts earlier this year by Texas Democrats to allow all voters who fear contracting the coronavirus to instead vote by mail, a process which conservatives note is often ripe for fraud and abuse.

This recent letter is far from Butt’s first foray into Texas politics. For years, the billionaire has bankrolled efforts against conservatives in the Republican primary and has funded Democrats in general elections.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens