Bexar County is considering a slew of last-minute changes to election administration before the November election.
Historically, courts have frowned on last minute alterations to how elections are run and despite COVID19, 2020 appears to be no different. Still, overzealous local officials and power hungry liberals on the state and national stage have busied themselves trying.
Some of the called for changes in Bexar County have debatable effectiveness, while others appear to be straight up against the law. According to reporting on the push, county commissioners have issued what is being called a blank check to implement changes.
As with many efforts this year to fundamentally change how elections are run, circumventing the lawmaking process, Bexar County is using the guise of access and safety. This abuse of a crisis doesn’t overcome security concerns, since ensuring the veracity of the election is paramount.
The most egregious run at overriding law is the idea that the election administrator has the power to create “multiple locations for dropping off mail ballots.”
Texas Election Code is prescriptive and specific when it comes to handling mail-in ballots:
Sec. 86.006. METHOD OF RETURNING MARKED BALLOT. (a) A marked ballot voted under this chapter must be returned to the early voting clerk in the official carrier envelope. The carrier-envelope may be delivered in another envelope and must be transported and delivered only by: (1) mail; (2) common or contract carrier; or (3) subject to Subsection (a-1), in-person delivery by the voter who voted the ballot.
(a-1) The voter may deliver a marked ballot in person to the early voting clerk’s office only while the polls are open on election day. A voter who delivers a marked ballot in person must present an acceptable form of identification described by Section 63.0101.
There are no allowances in the code for ballots being dropped off at multiple locations, collected, and counted. Last-minute expansions of this sort introduce the specter of chain of custody issues.
As is the case with the collection of mail-in ballots, curbside voting in Texas elections is outlined clearly in the election code.
Sec. 64.009. VOTER UNABLE TO ENTER POLLING PLACE. (a) If a voter is physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance or likelihood of injuring the voter’s health, on the voter’s request, an election officer shall deliver a ballot to the voter at the polling place entrance or curb.
Curbside voting can not and should not expand beyond provisions in the election code. Similar to multiple rulings relating to eligibility to vote by mail, curbside voting can’t be expanded willy-nilly, at the whim of unelected election administrators or elected county clerks.
Also, health advisors don’t support expanded curbside voting because of an increased potential of exposure between election workers and voters.
Bexar County is also making a grand show of expanding voting locations and procuring “mega vote center” venues for early voting. To the extent that this move is for distancing, there’s a case to be made, but early voting is poorly attended, there are rarely lines and keeping a polling place open 24/7 is overkill.
The idea that there will be a massive increase in turnout is a media creation seeded to accomplish an end, potentially more spending, and usurpation of election laws.
While there is a need to be vigilant of these and other contemplated changes, money from the county will reportedly be spent on tracking mail-in ballots, a proposal that’s being contemplated in other counties.
We’ll be monitoring the situation. Bexar County’s Election Administrator Jacque Callanen will provide an update for commissioners on August 25.