SD30 special (Safe Republican): Six candidates filed for the abbreviated race to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper), who is running for Congress:

  • Craig Carter (R), Nocona boot manufacturing business owner and unsuccessful 2018 primary challenger (15%)
  • Andy Hopper (R), Decatur farmer and software consultant
  • Shelley Luther (R), Pilot Point salon owner
  • Jacob Minter (D), Anna electrician and union activist
  • Drew Springer (R-Muenster), who has represented HD68 since 2013; and
  • Denton Mayor Chris Watts (R), an attorney.

Early voting will begin on September 14 and run through September 25. The election is September 29. Candidates wishing to seek the seat had just five days to file with the Secretary of State, ending today (Friday).

Because of the very short timeline, no campaign finance reports will be required of the candidates until September 21, which is more than halfway through the early voting period. Candidates’ 8-day-out reports will disclose contributions received and expenditures made between the earlier of July 1 or the date they established their campaign committee and September 19.

HD138 open (Lean Democratic): The campaign of Democratic nominee Akilah Bacy released an internal poll showing her leading Republican Lacey Hull, 48%-42%, which is within the poll’s large margin of error. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads President Trump, 53%-43%, in the district. The poll of 400 “likely” voters was in the field August 3-7 – It’s not a fresh poll. – and conducted via landline and mobile numbers. The margin of error is ±4.9%.

Motor Voter Suit: A federal court ruled, again, that the state does not comply with the National Voter Registration Act’s provisions enabling voters to register to vote or update their registration when they update or renew their Texas driver licenses online.

“Although advised of the violation, and admittedly able to change its practice and procedure, the State of Texas refused to integrate voter registration into its online driver’s license renewal and change of address process to ensure compliance with federal law,” wrote Federal District Judge Orlando Garcia is his 68-page ruling.

It is the third time Garcia has ruled in plaintiffs’ favor in this case. The state appealed his May 2018 decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that plaintiffs lacked standing to seek the prospective relief they sought. That court did not address the merits of the case. Earlier this year, Garcia granted narrow relief to the named plaintiffs so they would be registered to vote in time to participate in the primary election.

The Texas Department of Public Safety “is legally obligated, as a designated voter registration agency under the NRVA, to permit a simultaneous voter registration application with every transaction,” Garcia wrote. It must “take all remaining steps necessary to … establish a DPS System that treats each online driver’s license renewal of change-of-address application as a simultaneous application for voter registration.” Such system must be fully operational by September 23.

Ballot Access Suit: Republican organizations and candidates have filed suit directly with the Texas Supreme Court seeking to remove around 40 Libertarian candidates from the general election ballot even though the statutory deadline to do so has passed. Relators “alternatively” request the Court order the Libertarian Party’s leaders to declare the candidates ineligible.

Earlier this week, a divided Third Court of Appeals panel dismissed as moot Republican candidates and groups’ lawsuit seeking to remove several Libertarian candidates from the ballot for not paying filing fees required by recently enacted Sec. 141.041(a), Election Code. The court determined that the suit, which was filed on the last day candidates’ names can be removed from the ballot, was filed too late.

An earlier lawsuit by several Democratic candidates and groups succeeded in removing three Green Party candidates from the ballot for not filing the required fees. A fourth candidate withdrew after it was revealed he voted in the Democratic primary, making him ineligible for the Green Party’s nomination.

Last year, the Green and Libertarian Parties, among other plaintiffs, filed state and federal suits challenging the filing fee provision. The state case is pending before the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments on June 23. A bench trial in the federal case is scheduled for next summer.

“I hope the outcome is that voters are given the chance to vote for candidates who followed the law in order to be on the ballot,” said Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) in a statement. He is one of the attorneys representing the relators.

Harris County: The Secretary of State’s election chief has ordered interim County Clerk Chris Hollins to “immediately halt any plan to send an application for ballot by mail to all registered voters and announce its retraction” by noon on Monday. In a letter, the Secretary of State’s office warned that Hollins’s plan “may cause voters to provide false information on the form” or “at a minimum … confuse voters about their ability to vote by mail.” In a statement, Hollins said he would provide voters with detailed guidance explaining who is eligible. “Voters will, of course, make their own decisions if they qualify to vote by mail,” he said.

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