Texas Supreme Court Sides With Ken Paxton On Mail Ballots – With A Caveat

The court ruled that lack of immunity to the coronavirus doesn’t qualify someone to vote by mail because of disability. But election officials also don’t investigate disability claims by those requesting an mail-in ballot.

By Rhonda FanningMay 28, 2020 2:22 pm, ,

On Wednesday the Texas Supreme Court sided with state Attorney General Ken Paxton who argued in a lawsuit that a voter’s lack of immunity against the coronavirus doesn’t entitle them to claim a disability in order to vote by mail.

But Taylor Goldenstein, Austin bureau reporter for the Houston Chronicle, told Texas Standard host David Brown on Thursday that the court left some gray area in its decision. She said while voters’ fears about getting COVID-19 while voting in person don’t technically qualify as a disability, election officials are not required to investigate the nature of any disability claimed when requesting to vote by mail.

“There is no explanation for when someone checks the box for disability,” Goldenstein said. “So, the court said that clerks don’t have the responsibility to go any further than the application, and investigate any kind of disability claim.”

Right now in Texas, only those over 65 years old, those who will be outside of their home county during an election, those incarcerated and those with disabilities can vote by mail. Several states allowed voting by mail before the pandemic, and that number is growing, at least temporarily, because of the pandemic.

Goldenstein said Republicans in Texas are celebrating the court’s decision as a validation of their stance against expansion of mail-in voting. They claim it opens the door to voter fraud, though studies have shown instances of that are rare.

The court’s decision isn’t the final word on the issue. There are federal cases that have yet to be decided, and Goldenstein said many expect the Texas case to go to the U.S. Supreme Court

Web story by Caroline Covington.


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