comscore Texas ordered by judge to allow all votes by mail, ACLU says | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Every act of aloha counts. Click here to DONATE to the MAUI RELIEF Fund.
Top News

Texas ordered by judge to allow all votes by mail, ACLU says

Honolulu Star-Advertiser logo
Unlimited access to premium stories for as low as $12.95 /mo.
Get It Now
                                Pablo Salinas delivers letters in El Paso, Texas.


    Pablo Salinas delivers letters in El Paso, Texas.

Texas must let any registered voter afraid of catching the coronavirus vote by mail in upcoming elections, a state court in Austin ordered Tuesday, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The bench ruling by Travis County District Judge Tim Sulak came hours after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, stated that voters without physical conditions or illnesses that prevent their voting at the polls will be denied mail-in ballots.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, attacked the ruling as an unlawful expansion of mail-in voting privileges that will “only serve to undermine the security and integrity of our elections and facilitate fraud.” He reiterated that mail-in ballots are not available to “perfectly healthy” voters who fear catching the coronavirus at the polls.

Sulak’s ruling, which is not yet publicly available, sets up yet another showdown between Texas’s Republican political leadership and civil-rights groups. The fight will undoubtedly draw the attention of President Donald Trump, who has expressed displeasure with mail-in ballots, believing them to be a source of voter fraud.

The Austin case was filed April 1 by the Texas Democratic Party and voters anxious about casting ballots at crowded polling stations during a pandemic. The U.S. Supreme Court on April 6 refused to halt in-person voting in Wisconsin for the presidential primaries and some state office elections the next day.

Sulak’s ruling is likely to be appealed to a higher court and possibly the Texas Supreme Court, from which it could be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Common sense and the spirit of the law won over the attorney general’s inexplicable stance that voters’ susceptibility to Covid-19 isn’t a physical condition under the law today,” Joaquin Gonzalez, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, said in a release announcing the judge’s bench ruling following a teleconference in the case.

“The court recognized the gravity of not allowing all eligible voters a mail-in option during the pandemic,” Sophia Lin Lakin, deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in the same release. “It is a common-sense solution to protect democracy and people’s well-being during this public health crisis.”

Texas has made a number of legally provocative moves during the coronavirus crisis. Governor Greg Abbott’s restricted abortions as “non-essential” procedures, drawing several legal challenges. The state is also fighting a broad coalition of state judges, county officials and criminal defense attorneys over its restrictions on releasing prisoners to limit the virus’s spread in overcrowded jails.

Comments (9)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up