Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton has filed suit seeking a temporary restraining order (PDF) against interim Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins to stop him from mailing applications for absentee ballots to all of the county’s registered voters. Hollins has already sent applications to every registered voter over the age of 65, all of whom are eligible to vote by mail.

“Hollins’ actions will create confusion, facilitate fraud and is an illegal ultra vires act because it exceeds his statutory authority,” the suit claims. “No statute … empowers an early voting clerk to send a vote-by-mail application form to any applicant who does not request one.” Ultra vires means acting without legal authority.

The Secretary of State’s elections chief previously ordered Hollins not to follow through with plans to mail absentee ballot applications to all registered voters. Hollins declined, saying that his office would include detailed guidance informing voters of their eligibility, or lack thereof, to request an absentee ballot.

Paxton’s action followed a lawsuit filed earlier in the day by the Harris Co. Republican Party, Conservative Republicans of Texas head Steven Hotze and others seeking the same outcome

Meanwhile, oral arguments were held before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on a lawsuit filed by the Texas Democratic Party, voting rights groups and others challenging restrictions on voting by mail eligibility.

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