July 9, 2021

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Fear of coronavirus alone not sufficient to vote by mail, Texas Supreme Court rules

Texas officers combating to dam widespread mail-in voting throughout the pandemic claimed victory after the state’s highest court docket dominated late Wednesday {that a} lack of immunity to the coronavirus would not qualify somebody to forged a poll by mail.

The choice was unanimous by the Texas Supreme Courtroom, which dominated remotely and is stocked with 9 Republican justices, together with one who revealed final week that she had examined optimistic for COVID-19. Texas typically limits mail balloting solely to voters who’re greater than 65 years of age or have a incapacity.

Justice Eva Guzman wrote the court docket was unified within the conclusion that “fear of contracting a disease is not a physical condition.”

The Texas Democratic Occasion blasted the choice and moved its hopes to an analogous problem taking part in out in federal court docket.

However not all noticed the choice as a complete loss: the highest elections lawyer in Houston, Harris County legal professional Douglas Ray, mentioned he believed the ruling leaves room for every voter to determine themselves whether or not they qualify, and offers clerks mainly no means to second-guess the reasoning.

In Texas, voters do not need to explain their incapacity when requesting a mail-in poll.

Republican Texas Legal professional Common Ken Paxton has argued that worry of getting the virus alone would not qualify as a incapacity. He applauded the court docket for preserving the established order with simply weeks till the state is ready to carry major runoff elections in July.

Trump allegations about mail-in voting marked by Twitter

Paxton has taken a tough line on resisting efforts by Democrats and voting rights teams to attempt increasing mail balloting in Texas.

“In-person voting is the surest way to maintain the integrity of our elections, prevent voter fraud and guarantee that every voter is who they claim to be,” Paxton mentioned.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted assist of the court docket’s determination later Wednesday night time: “Texas Supreme Court: Lack of immunity to COVID-19 alone not enough to vote by mail … Big win in Texas on the dangerous Mail In Voting Scam!”

Trump has been railing towards mail-in balloting and alleges with out proof that it results in “total election fraud.”

Trump this week has directed his anger at Twitter, which he makes use of to talk on to his greater than 80 million followers, after the corporate slapped fact-check alerts on two of his tweets claiming that mail-in voting is fraudulent.

The struggle in Texas is only one of a number of court docket battles throughout the nation over efforts, primarily by Democrats, to develop entry to mail-in ballots amid the pandemic.

In Wisconsin, the place election officers drew widespread criticism for holding its April 7 presidential major whilst different states delayed voting, a brand new lawsuit filed this month argued that not sufficient has been accomplished since then to make sure that the upcoming elections may be carried out safely and pretty.

Research have discovered little proof of voter fraud related to voting by mail and no clear benefit for both social gathering.

A report by the U.S. Election Help Fee says the method was utilized by about one-quarter of all voters within the 2018 midterm elections, representing about 30 million votes. The whole was greater than that of in-person, early voting, which represented one-fifth of the overall, with simply over half voting in particular person on election day.

The court docket rejected Paxton’s request to bar native election officers from accepting mail-in ballots primarily based on claims of incapacity due to the virus. Justice Nathan Hecht wrote that the court docket was “confident that election officials will comply” with the broader determination.

However in Houston, Ray mentioned that whereas the ruling is obvious that if voters do not qualify in the event that they’re “perfectly healthy and all that you’re afraid of is you might get COVID,” he believed the court docket order did not completely shut the door.

“As we all know, nobody’s perfectly healthy,” Ray mentioned. “We all have something we can look at, and it’s really up to the voter to decide based on his personal situation whether he would qualify or not. And the clerk basically has no authority or ability to question him.”

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