AG Paxton Asks Texas Supreme Court For Opinion On Voting By Mail

Vote By Mail
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AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Wednesday filed a petition with the State Supreme Court, requesting that the court compel the early-voting clerks for Dallas, Cameron, El Paso, Harris and Travis Counties to stop accepting mail-in ballot applications for those fearful of catching COVID-19.

Texas law generally requires in-person voting, but does allow those over 65, Injured or disabled or out of the country to vote by mail.

Texas Democrats believe these restrictions were eased in mid-April when Travis County District Judge Tim Sulak ruled on their lawsuit concluding that those fearful of contracting COVID-19 while voting in person qualify as disabled. Sulak sided with the arguments put forth by the Texas Democratic Party. Their attorney Chad Dunn made a case that those fearful of voting in person are disabled.

“The district judge had ruled that people who don't have an immunity to COVID-19 have a physical condition that qualifies as disabled to vote by mail,” said Dunn. “Thousands of people have been doing just exactly that, requesting vote-by-mail ballots over the last month, and now the state attorney general, acting on his own, wants to upset all those things.”

Paxton disagrees with the Judge’s ruling and has actually gone so far as to send letters to county election officials threatening legal action if they don’t stop encouraging voters to apply for mail-in-ballots under the disability clause. 

“Each misapplication of Texas election law damages the integrity of our elections and increases the risk of voter fraud. In-person voting is the surest way to prevent voter fraud and guarantee that every voter is who they claim to be and has a fair opportunity to cast their vote,” said Paxton. “It is unfortunate that certain county election officials have refused to perform their duties and have instead unlawfully gone beyond the Legislature’s determination of who is eligible to vote by mail. My office will continue to defend the integrity of Texas’s election laws.”

Paxton contends that fear of COVID-19 is not valid excuse to vote-by-mail.

The AG’s press release reads:  “Disability, as that term is used in the Texas Election Code’s provisions allowing voting by mail, means a ‘sickness or physical condition’ that prevents a voter from voting in person on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter’s health. A voter ill with COVID-19 and who meets those requirements may apply for a ballot by mail. Fear of contracting COVID-19, however, is a non-physical reaction to the current pandemic and does not amount to a sickness or physical condition that qualifies a voter to receive a ballot by mail.” 

 Read a copy of the filing here.