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Sep 01

September 1, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #113

Posted on September 1, 2020 at 6:46 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates

 

What’s the latest from the governor on the possibility of re-openings or further lockdowns?

 

After remaining quiet about the issue for some time, The Texas Tribune reported the governor saying the following to a local television station on August 26:

 

“The state will take ‘a look at further openings’ if it can continue its downtrend with the number of coronavirus cases past Labor Day. ‘We have three things to get past,’ he told KTRK-TV. ‘One is the hurricane, two is the opening of schools and three is Labor Day. If we can continue the downtrends through those three different challenges ... then we will be taking a look at further openings.’”

 

Yesterday (August 31), the governor tweeted the following:

 

“I said last month that Texas wouldn’t have any more lockdowns—despite demands from mayors & county judges insisting on lockdowns. Since my last orders in July, COVID numbers have declined—most importantly hospitalizations. I hope to provide updates next week about next steps.”

 

We recall the governor saying re-opening metrics would include the “positivity rate,” which just dropped to 10 percent yesterday, the lowest level in over two months.  With hospitalizations down and the positivity rate at his previously-announced re-opening threshold of 10 percent, it’s possible new announcements of re-openings by the governor could be imminent. .

 

Further Updates

 

What’s the latest with mail-in ballots during the pandemic?

 

According to The Texas Tribune, the Texas attorney general, acting at the request of the secretary of state, sued Harris County yesterday (August 31) after it refused to drop plans to send applications for mail-in ballots for the November general election to more than two million registered voters.

 

“That fight had focused on which voters are eligible to cast an absentee ballot, but it has now expanded to include a disagreement between the state and its most populous county over who can even receive the application to request a mail-in ballot.

 

Until now, the local election officials, including county clerks, actually responsible for carrying out elections had mostly been spectators as Texas’ Republican leadership fought off efforts by state Democrats and civil rights groups to expand voting by mail during the pandemic. Monday’s action marks the most prominent intervention by the state in local election practices.

 

There is no state law that specifically prohibits election officials from sending out mail-in ballot applications to all voters. Instead, Paxton argues that county clerks are only ‘expressly empowered’ by the Texas Election Code to send out applications to voters who request them, ‘but there is no statute empowering County Clerks to send applications to vote by mail to voters who have not requested such an application.’”

 

The following is from an attorney general press release regarding his lawsuit:

 

“Attorney General Ken Paxton today?filed a lawsuit against Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins for sending unsolicited mail-in ballot applications to over two million Harris County registered voters?in blatant violation of Texas election laws.?Under Texas election law, mail-in ballots are reserved for a few limited categories of qualified voters who are age 65 and older and voters who are disabled. Earlier this year, the?Texas Supreme Court ruled?that fear of contracting COVID-19 does not qualify as a ‘disability’ and mail-in ballots must be preserved for?qualifying?groups. The Harris County Clerk’s proposed mass mailing would sow confusion because applications would go to all registered voters, regardless of whether they legally qualify to vote a mail ballot and regardless of whether they even want to vote by mail. Texas law requires the clerk to send applications to voters who specifically request them.” 

 

Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus Updates?

 

TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.