Elections across the country saw unprecedented numbers of pandemic-induced mail-in ballots last year, and then-President Donald Trump saw an opportunity.
As the influx of absentee ballot requests became more imminent, Trump eagerly promoted lies about the 100+ year old institution of voting by mail. he claimed it was unreliable, that foreign countries could mail ballots to the United States, and that Trump votes sent in by mail were regularly thrown away. It soon became apparent that far more Democrats than Republicans would be voting by mail.
As Republicans repeated the mail ballot lies to discourage expanding access to absentee ballots in light of the pandemic, they frequently said their concerns were about "election security" and not about securing a victory for Trump.
Now, months after Trump has left office, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is saying the quiet part out loud.
Ahead of the 2020 election, officials in Harris County—where Houston is located—sought to mail out absentee ballots for all of its millions of residents. After Paxton sued, the state's conservative Supreme Court barred the blue county from proceeding.
With Texas growing increasingly purple and Trump polling behind Biden in the state, Paxton confirmed his effort was to secure the state and its whopping 38 electoral votes for Trump.
In an interview with white nationalist and former Trump official Steve Bannon, Paxton said:
"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. 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."
Never mind that, before the pandemic, five states automatically sent mail-in ballots and have seen no instances of widespread fraud.
People were stunned at Paxton's admission.
Others urged Democrats to fight against the voter suppression laws proposed by Republicans across the country.