Former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus says Republicans should stop fighting Democrats who are trying to undermine state laws that govern who can vote by mail, a process more vulnerable to fraud and errors than in-person voting.
In an opinion piece published by The Dallas Morning News, Straus said it was “disappointing” that some Texas Republicans are fighting to maintain the election processes put in place by state lawmakers.
Straus applauded Gov. Greg Abbott for unilaterally extending the in-person early voting period but said “more could be done” to accommodate voters.
He then criticized Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for intervening when Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins—who runs elections in the state’s most populous county and is also an officer in the Texas Democrat Party—decided to send mail-ballot applications to all 2.4 million registered voters in the county:
“But some Texas officials are going out of their way to discourage voting by mail. Republican campaigns have long utilized mail-in voting as a way to make sure certain voices, such as senior citizens and others who cannot physically make it to the polls, are heard. But this year, it’s disappointing that Republican leaders in Texas are not taking the increased demand for voting by mail more seriously. After the chief elections officer in Harris County announced plans to send applications for mail-in ballots to registered voters, the Texas attorney general sued to stop him, adding to public confusion about the legality of voting by mail.”
In fact, Democrats’ actions to overturn—or simply ignore—state election laws are what have created confusion among Texas voters.
Under Texas law, only voters who are 65 or older, disabled, in jail, or outside their home county during an election are eligible to vote by mail.
Yet earlier this year, the Texas Democrat Party filed two separate vote-by-mail lawsuits, asking both state and federal courts to bypass the legislature and allow any voter to claim fear of the Chinese coronavirus as an excuse to cast a mail ballot.
In his commentary, Straus discounted concerns about mail-ballot fraud.
He also brushed aside the challenge that would be presented to local election officials by inviting an unprecedented influx of mail ballots with just weeks to adjust their processes, saying it is “their job to prepare adequately for an increase in mail-in ballots.”
Straus siding with Democrats, however, should come as no surprise, given a look at his time in office.
First elected Speaker of the Texas House in 2009 in a coup led by Democrats and a minority of Republican members, Straus spent his time behind the gavel obstructing conservative priorities and reforms.
New bylaws passed by the House Republican Caucus in 2017, which had members nominate a unified Republican candidate rather than allow Democrats to join with a minority of Republicans to elect another “coalition” speaker, forced Straus to announce his retirement from the legislature.
Since then, Straus has remained politically active as the chairman of his Texas Forever Forward PAC, which has largely donated money to campaigns of his old establishment allies in the Texas House.