Texas counties again limited to 1 mail-in ballot drop-off spot, court says
Texas counties are currently blocked from setting up multiple mail-in ballot drop-off locations ahead of the November election after a federal appeals court on Saturday issued a temporary order.
The Saturday decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals came shortly after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an emergency appeal of an order issued late Friday by a federal judge that blocked Gov. Greg Abbott‘s plan to authorize only one ballot box per county in the state.
“I commend the Fifth Circuit for temporarily staying the district court’s unlawful injunction while it considers our request for a full stay pending appeal,” Paxton said in a statement Saturday. “This ensures that the governor’s proclamation remains in effect.”
Abbott, a Republican, announced two weeks ago that each county could have a maximum of one drop-off site for absentee ballots during the early-voting period that starts Oct. 13. He said the move was designed to “strengthen voting safety in Texas.”
The back-and-forth in legal proceedings comes just a few days before the start of early voting in the state.
The order faced three legal challenges from progressive groups alleging that it exceeds Abbott’s authority and “imposes an unconstitutional right on voters’ right to vote,” particularly in geographically large areas.
Texas allows voters to cast an absentee ballot if they are over the age of 65, have an illness or disability, will be out of the country for early voting or Election Day, or are in jail but otherwise eligible to vote.
Millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail this November due to the coronavirus pandemic, increasing the chances the winner of the presidential race won’t immediately be known on election night. State election officials in several key battleground states have warned it could take days to count all of the votes.
Trump has repeatedly claimed – with little evidence – that mail-in voting would allow for widespread fraud.
According to an aggregate of polls from RealClearPolitics, Trump is leading Democratic rival Joe Biden by 4.4 percentage points in Texas.