Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said former President Donald Trump would have lost in Texas in the 2020 election if his office had not successfully blocked counties from mailing out applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters.
Harris County, home to the city of Houston, wanted to mail out applications for mail-in ballots to its approximately 2.4 million registered voters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the conservative Texas Supreme Court blocked the county from doing so after it faced litigation from Paxton's office.
"If we'd lost Harris County—Trump won by 620,000 votes in Texas. Harris County mail-in ballots that they wanted to send out were 2.5 million, those were all illegal and we were able to stop every one of them," Paxton told former Trump adviser Steve Bannon during the latter's War Room podcast on Friday.
"Had we not done that, we would have been in the very same situation—we would've been on Election Day, I was watching on election night and I knew, when I saw what was happening in these other states, that that would've been Texas. We would've been in the same boat. We would've been one of those battleground states that they were counting votes in Harris County for three days and Donald Trump would've lost the election," the Republican official said.
Notably, the Texas attorney general conflated mail-in ballots with applications for mail-in ballots in his remarks to Bannon. Harris County did not attempt to mail actual ballots to registered voters—just applications to request them if the individual voter wanted one.
As Paxton pointed out, Trump carried the traditionally conservative southwestern state by more than 600,000 votes. While President Joe Biden won 46.5 percent of the state's more than 11.3 million votes, Trump won about 52.1 percent. Polling ahead of the election had suggested that Biden had a shot at flipping the red state, which last went for a Democratic presidential candidate in 1976.
A 2020 analysis of U.S. election laws by Northern Illinois University ranked Texas as the most difficult state for voting. While absentee voting is allowed in the state for anyone over the age of 65 without an excuse, the state requires those younger to have a valid reason for requesting an absentee ballot. While Democrats believed the COVID-19 pandemic should be an acceptable excuse for any registered voter to cast their ballots by mail, Paxton and other Texas Republicans disagreed.
Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers in Texas want to make it more difficult to vote in the state. Their efforts have been largely animated by Trump's baseless claims that Biden won the 2020 election through widespread voter fraud. These false allegations have already been thoroughly litigated and wholly debunked, while the former president and his allies have failed to provide evidence to substantiate them.
Democratic lawmakers in the Texas state House blocked what they viewed as a voter suppression bill from moving forward at the end of May. The Democrats walked out of the late evening legislative session on May 30, denying Republican lawmakers quorum to pass the legislation. Although that successfully prevented the bill from moving forward, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has vowed to call a special session in a further effort to pass changes to the state's election laws.
Newsweek reached out to Paxton's office for further comment but did not immediately receive a response.