The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request by Texas Democrats to allow all of the state's 16 million registered voters to vote by mail during the coronavirus pandemic.
The denial is not the end of the ongoing battle over mail-in voting in Texas, but it remains a loss for Democrats who made the emergency ruling request while the original case is tied up at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor urged the lower court to consider the case "well in advance of the November election." Voting by mail in Texas is generally limited to those 65 or older or those with a "sickness or physical condition" that prevents voting in person.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded the United States Supreme Court for leaving in place a Fifth Circuit order blocking unlawful mail-in voting.
For months, Attorney General Paxton has fought expanding mail-in balloting during the pandemic, saying fear of contracting the virus is an insufficient reason. A federal judge in Texas sided with Democrats in May, but that decision is on hold pending appeal.
"I applaud the Supreme Court for following the law and refusing to order mail-in balloting that the Texas Legislature has forbidden. Universal mail-in ballots, which are notoriously vulnerable to fraud, would only lead to greater election fraud and disenfranchise lawful voters," said Attorney General Paxton. "State election officials have many options available to safely and securely hold elections without risking widespread fraud. My office will continue to fight for safe, free and fair elections."
Early voting in Texas begins Monday for primary runoff elections that had been postponed to July over coronavirus fears, but Texas is now one of the nation's coronavirus hotspots as confirmed cases reach record levels and Gov. Greg Abbott reimposes restrictions.