DALLAS — The Republican Party of Texas sent absentee ballot applications to Texas voters with the headlines “President Trump is counting on you,” and “President Trump needs you to act now.”
On one side of the flier are pictures of the president with a quote from him: “I will be an absentee voter. We have a lot of absentee voters. It works, so we are in favor of absentee.”
On the other side is an application for an absentee ballot.
Critics of President Trump say it is ironic to see a campaign tactic promoting absentee balloting from someone who has loudly criticized efforts to expand voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think it’s just classic Donald Trump,“ said Luke Warford, Texas Democratic Party director of voter expansion.
“He’s a person who thinks the rules are different for everyone else versus himself. He and his family vote by mail. He wants his voters to vote by mail. And he wants to scare Americans across the board and especially Democrats from voting,”
The Texas Democratic Party called it hypocritical for the Republican party to feature Trump on an absentee ballot and Republican strategist Vinny Minchillo called that criticism fair.
“But I think it’s also not understanding how it all works in Texas,” he said of the Democrats’ complaints.
“In Texas Republican campaigns, it’s pretty standard operating procedure for us to mail our potential voters who are 65 and older…an application for a mail-in ballot," Minchillo said.
Texas law says the only Texans who can participate in absentee voting are registered voters who are 65 or older, those who have a disability, voters who will be out of the county on Election Day, or those who are in jail but still eligible to vote.
Harris County was sued by the local Republican Party after announcing it would send mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters.
“It’s a little bit of a myth that’s getting driven out there that Republicans are afraid of vote by mail,” Minchillo said. “We just want it to be super secure.”
Texas Democrats are the midst of a week-long effort to reach one million currently unregistered voters, “the largest voter registration program the Texas Democratic Party has ever run,” according to Warford.
“We’ve already reached out to over 680,000,” he said Thursday.
And he believes once they convert an unregistered voter to a registered voter, it will be easy to convince them to participate on Election Day.
“New registrants are actually more likely to go out and vote than people who’ve been registered for a long time,” he said, adding that there are an estimated five million unregistered Texans.
“Texas is not a Republican state. Texas is a non-voting state,” Warford said.
The Republican Party of Texas had not responded by deadline to WFAA’s request for comment about its voter registration efforts or its absentee ballot campaign.
But a Texas GOP spokesperson did tell the Texas Tribune the party was sending the absentee applications to people who are known to be eligible for mail voting as it has previously done.