H-E-B owner Charles Butt writes court in support of sending mail ballot applications to registered voters

Grocery store magnate says Harris County’s plan would protect from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19

Charles Butt, H-E-B Chairman and CEO
Charles Butt, H-E-B Chairman and CEO

SAN ANTONIO – In a rare move for Charles Butt, the San Antonio-based grocery chain owner wrote to the Texas Supreme Court in support of Harris County’s plan to send vote-by-mail applications to all its voters.

Harris County is in the middle of legal challenges over its plan to send applications for mail-in ballots to registered voters 65 and older. Voters who receive the applications would still need to verify their information and send them in to election administrators to receive the actual ballot.

Bexar County’s Elections Department has confirmed it has similar plans in the works.

The plan has been opposed by Republicans Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, who claim it could lead to election fraud. On Wednesday, the Texas Supreme Court paused Harris County’s plans while lower courts decide on the case. It isn’t clear when the court hearing will take place.

In his letter, Butt commends the plan, which was led by Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, arguing that the plan is permissible under election code.

“Texas requires an excuse to vote absentee but, as your Court has recently held, does not permit election officials to second-guess a voter’s exercise of that option,” Butt wrote. “Thus, Clerk Hollins’s effort to make absentee ballots widely available trusts voters, protecting those who are vulnerable from unnecessary exposure in this new Covid world in which we’re living.”

“It’s always been my impression that the more people who vote, the stronger our democracy will be,” Butt added.

The Harris County GOP, who is challenging Hollins’ plan in court along with Paxton, described Hollins as a “rogue clerk who is abusing the application to vote by mail process.”

In response, Hollins had tweeted pictures of a mailer paid for by the Texas GOP, which encouraged recipients to fill out an attached mail-in ballot application. Texas GOP chairman Allen West fired back at Hollins, calling him incompetent for his vote-by-mail application plans.

Read the full letter below:

Supporters say we should all be allowed to drop our votes in the mailbox so we can stay away from crowds and protect our health during the pandemic. Those who oppose the idea argue that opens the door to voter fraud. There are also concerns mail-in voting favors one party over the other.
Supporters say we should all be allowed to drop our votes in the mailbox so we can stay away from crowds and protect our health during the pandemic. Those who oppose the idea argue that opens the door to voter fraud. There are also concerns mail-in voting favors one party over the other.

About the Author:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.