“Have Well-Meaning Texas Leaders Learned Anything from Their Mistakes?”
By Donna Garner

A group of people in suits and ties standing around.


Have Texas leaders, well-meaning as they may be, learned anything to guide them in the future about voting during a pandemic?  I honestly do not know, but I certainly hope so.

I believe the first problem arose on 7.27.20 when Gov. Greg Abbott decided under COVID pressure to go against the Texas Election Code.  He made the decision (1) to add 6 days of early voting, and (2) to suspend part of the Texas Election Code which stated hand-delivered/mail-in ballots had to be delivered only on Election Day.

Gov. Abbott did this even though Justice Devine pointed out that the “constitution plainly states that ‘[n]o power of suspending laws in this State shall be exercised except by the Legislature.’”

Then Gov. Abbott went back on 10.1.20 and clarified his 7.27.20 order by saying Texas counties could only have one drop-off location for hand-delivered/mail-in ballots so that poll watchers could observe ballot deliveries by voters. This is a sensible clarification because it makes sure that there is at least some accountability for those incoming ballots.  

Yesterday on 10.8.20, Dem-controlled organizations asked a federal judge to block Gov. Abbott’s “one-drop-off location per county” order; and the “merry-go-round” starts once again.  Who knows how this ruling will come out?

All of this confusion could have been avoided if everyone had stuck to what is written in the Texas Election Code, and that is exactly what Justice John Devine believes.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Devine delivered his deep concerns in Texas Supreme Court NO. 20-0751 which he issued on 10.7.20.

A number of people (a.k.a., Relators) had brought their concerns to the Texas Supreme Court.  One of the Relators is a candidate for office with a compelling interest.  The Relators questioned Democrat Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins’ authority to accept hand-delivered/mail-in ballots before election day (thousands of them mailed out by the Dems, unrequested by the voters, and no paper trail).

Because Justice Devine realizes that Hollins’ actions are against what the Texas Election Code states [sections 86.006(a-1) and 85.001], Justice Devine said that a stay must be put in place until a final decision could be made.

The Texas Election Code states a voter “may deliver a marked ballot in person to the early voting clerk’s office only while the polls are open on election day… [Texas Election Code § 86.006(a-1)].  If Chris Hollins receives a ballot returned ‘in violation of this section,’ the ballot ‘may not be counted.’” [Id. § 86.006(h)]

However, going against the Texas Election Code, Harris County Clerk Hollins announced on 8.24.20 that he would begin accepting hand-delivered/mail ballots “as soon as they hit voter’s mailboxes…I anticipate 8.28.20…”

Furthermore, Chris Hollins stated that hand-delivered/mail-ballots would be accepted at each of the County Clerk’s annexes.

In NO. 20-0751, Justice Devine stated, “…the Clerk is violating the Election Code in two ways. First, the County Clerk is accepting hand-delivered/mail-in ballots ahead of the November 3 election day and second, he is accepting those ballots at the annexes, rather than at the ‘voting clerk’s office,’ as prescribed by statute.’”

It is my belief that the initial problem which has triggered so much of the voting chaos occurred when Gov. Abbott on 7.27.20 issued a proclamation that suspended certain Election Code protocols.   

Once the Texas Election Code was suspended, chaos broke loose; and Democrat Harris County Clerk Hollins took advantage of the moment.  Justice Devine got it right when he issued NO. 20-0751 to say that the Texas Supreme Court should have put a stay on Hollins’ plan because it goes against the Texas Election Code.

Lesson to be learned: Always stick with what the law says without opening a whole “can of worms” that once opened cannot be put back in the can.

BOTTOM LINE:  Now throughout these Nov. 2020 elections, our elected Texas leaders need to try to hold everyone as accountable as possible to follow the essence of the law which is to protect our ballots from graft and corruption so that we can have a free and fair election “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

To see Justice John P. Devine’s dissenting opinion in NO. 20-0751, please go to this link:  https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1449878/200751d.pdf