Texas Supreme Court blocks ruling that expanded voting by mail


(Reuters) – 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.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who had argued for the state in the case, welcomed the decision and said it was incorrect to include fear of contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, as a “disability” on mail-in ballot applications.

“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, a Republican, said.

Republicans, including U.S. President Donald Trump, have said mail-in voting is susceptible to rigging.

Trump said on Twitter the court’s decision was a big win and labeled mail-in voting “dangerous” and a “scam”.

Democrats say that voting via mail is necessary to counter health risks from the coronavirus by helping to prevent crowds at polling places.

The case was originally brought by the Democratic Party of Texas, which is looking to expand the ability of voters to cast ballots during the pandemic.

“Now, it is up to the federal court to ensure basic constitutional rights still exist in Texas and ensure that Texans have a right to vote safely and not put their health at-risk”, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojos said after the court ruling.

Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru