Per Reuters, Wednesday, the Texas Supreme Court blocked on Wednesday a decision that allowed mail-in balloting for voters who feared for their health because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“We agree with the state that a voter’s lack of immunity to COVID-19, without more, is not a ‘disability’ as defined by the Election Code,” Chief Justice Nathan Hecht said in a ruling.
President Trump celebrated the ruling in a tweet, calling it a “big win.”Dallas News reports the ruling is a victory for Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has argued that only a physical illness or disability that prevents voters from going to the polls should qualify people to vote by mail. It is a loss for the Texas Democratic Party and voting rights groups who had pushed for expanded mail voting during the coronavirus pandemic and had won temporary victories in lower courts.
The question of expanded mail voting is also being fought in federal courts, where an appeals court is considering whether to stay an order by a district judge that allowed those who lack immunity to COVID-19 to vote by mail.
The two cases are playing out at the same time and the legal battle is expected to continue as both sides argue about how to safely conduct the upcoming primary runoffs scheduled for July 14. Early voting in those elections begins June 29.
In the majority opinion from the Texas Supreme Court, Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, joined by six other justices, acknowledged the intense political debate surrounding voting by mail.
“The question before us is not whether voting by mail is better policy or worse, but what the Legislature has enacted. It is purely a question of law,” he wrote. “Our authority and responsibility are to interpret the statutory text and give effect to the Legislature’s intent. We agree with the State that a voter’s lack of immunity to COVID-19, without more, is not a “disability” as defined by the Election Code.”