Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) is sending out unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots to voters in his district, even after he supported a state law that banned local election officials from the same practice, The Texas Tribune reports.
Last September, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 1, which made it a felony for officials to send out ballot applications to voters who didn’t request them. Passed by Texas Republicans in a party-line vote after a delayed process that saw dozens of Democratic lawmakers leave the state in protest, the legislation did still permit the practice for candidates and political parties. The law went into effect last month.
Critics charge that the Crenshaw campaign’s decision to stick with the tactic, which is fairly common, runs counter to the congressman’s previous comments in support of SB 1.
“The hypocrisy here is absurd,” Chris Hollins, the former clerk of the state’s most populous (and heavily Democratic) county, told the Tribune. “Voting by mail is a safe way that is utilized for people to exercise their right to vote.… We should be promoting the right to vote by mail for all those who are eligible, not making it illegal to inform voters of their right.”
In 2020, Hollins was planning to send mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters in Harris County, only to have the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court strike it down. Around this time, Crenshaw claimed that to expand mail-in voting would be “playing with fire,” asserting that it would lead to voter fraud. Republicans in the state capitol seem to agree, as SB 1 prevents initiatives similar to the one planned by Hollins from taking effect.
When asked about sending out applications to voters — only those aged 65 and older, notably — in light of how Crenshaw supported SB 1, a spokesperson told The Texas Tribune that he “did not write the bill,” emphasizing that it was a “state-legislature decision.”
Among other things, SB 1 also banned overnight early voting hours and drive-thru voting in Harris County, both of which were put in place during the pandemic and led to record turnout. The bill was first drawn up after Abbott named “election integrity” as a priority for the 2021 legislative session despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Earlier this month, the Texas secretary of state’s office released the first phase of its review of the 2020 election results, which was something that former President Donald Trump, alleging fraud, had pushed for. Its findings: nothing resembling what Trump alleged.