Judge Rules Voters Worried About Coronavirus Can Vote By Mail

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A victory for Texas state Democrats, who are suing for all Texans to be able to vote by mail-in ballot because of COVID-19. A state judge said Wednesday he will issue an order allowing mail-in ballots for someone concerned about getting the virus.

“As public health officials began speaking to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, the Texas Democratic Party knew voting by mail would have to reduce the demand for in-person voting. In Wisconsin, we saw the debacle that ensues when voters are prevented from mailing their ballots during a pandemic. Voters should not have to choose between their lives or their right to vote,” said Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa.

Hinojosa added “The Texas Legislature provided for these circumstances by statute allowing voters to vote by mail when they have a physical condition that makes it dangerous for them to do so. That’s why we fought in court on behalf of voters.

According to the Secretary of State's office website, in order to qualify for a mail-in ballot, a person must fall under one of these categories: 65 years or older, disabled, be out of the county on election day and during the period for early voting, or be confined in jail, but otherwise eligible.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will appeal this ruling. Earlier in the day, Paxton said that someone fearful of COVID-19 does not meet requirements.

“Mail ballots based on disability are specifically reserved for those who are physically ill and cannot vote in-person as a result. Fear of contracting COVID-19 does not amount to a sickness or physical condition as required by the Legislature,” said Attorney General Paxton.

“The integrity of our democratic election process must be maintained, and law established by our Legislature must be followed consistently, ” said Paxton.

Texas Republican Party chairman James Dickey does not believe the system should be changed. He said only a small percentage vote in the run-off elections, and then early voting isn't until October.

“There is nothing more secure, than you walking in making your vote, reviewing your vote and then walking out. There is nothing more secure than that,” said Dickey.

Governor Abbott was asked about the lawsuit last week.

“I haven’t seen the lawsuit. What I know is this and that is there is a state law in the state of Texas that allows people to vote in person. And that is a state law that I don’t want to waive. I think that people have a legal right to vote in person and we need to try to conduct elections consistent with that. Hence the superior strategy is exactly what I ordered in an executive order and that is to move the elections that were scheduled for May to July, hoping that by the time we get to July, it will be more accommodating for people to have the option to vote in person,” said Abbott.

The Attorney General will appeal the ruling.

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