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Harris County Clerk: Letter to state elections official on drive-thru voting legality ‘met with silence’

On Oct. 14, a state appeals court threw out a last-minute lawsuit by state Republicans to halt drive-thru voting.

HOUSTON — Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins said late Wednesday afternoon he was still waiting to hear back from the state’s top elections official on the legality of drive-thru voting.

Hollins sent a letter Tuesday to Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs seeking assurance drive-thru voting is legal and that any votes from those sites will be protected.

In his letter, Hollins requested a response by Wednesday at noon.

“My request to the Secretary of State has been met with silence, and that silence right now is speaking volumes,” said Hollins during a virtual press conference just after 4 p.m. Wednesday.   

On Oct. 14, a state appeals court threw out a last-minute lawsuit by state Republicans to halt drive-thru voting.

Houston-area Republicans said Wednesday they hope the Texas Supreme Court will look at the issue during the upcoming week.

“As of now, this is an open case with the Texas Supreme Court, and until they toss it out as baseless, as frivolous, there is a non-zero chance that thousands and thousands and thousands of Harris County voters will be disenfranchised,” said Hollins.

Hollins said he’s tried several times since the appeals court decision to reach the state’s elections director but has not heard back.

On Tuesday, Hollins sent a letter to Secretary of State Ruth Hughs asking for assurance drive-thru voting is legal, as well as a commitment to “defending the votes” cast at those sites.

Hollins says Hughs previously approved his plan’s legality during the planning process, adding Section 85 of the Texas Election Code allows it.

“From this reading, it is 100 percent clear that any structure can be used as a polling place, and the tents that we have set up for drive-thru voting clearly are regarded as structures,” said Hollins.

The clerk also said Section 31 of the Texas Election Code requires the Secretary of State to help and advise election officials on carrying out elections.

A spokesman for the Secretary of State confirmed to KHOU via email his office received Hollins letter but did not reply to additional questions sent via email and voicemail.