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A federal judge ruled that Texas must allow all voters to vote absentee without an excuse during the coronavirus pandemic


Greg Abbott

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that Texas must allow all voters to cast absentee ballots without an excuse in its upcoming elections for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Texas Democratic Party filed a lawsuit arguing Texas only allowing voters aged 65 and above to request an absentee ballot without an excuse violates the 26th amendment protections against age discrimination in voting.
District Court Judge Fred Biery of the Western District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction against the state, siding with the plaintiffs in striking down the age waiver during the duration of the pandemic.
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A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that Texas must allow all voters to cast absentee ballots without an excuse in its upcoming elections for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, including in Texas’ scheduled July run-off elections.

Currently, twenty-eight states allow all voters to request an absentee ballot without a documented excuse. Seven more states, including Texas, only allow elderly voters above a certain age cut-off, often 60 or 65, to request an absentee ballot without an excuse.

Before the pandemic, Indiana, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi also only allowed voters above 65 to request an absentee ballot without an excuse, while Tennessee only allowed those over 65 and Kentucky allowed those of “advanced age” to do so. Now, Indiana, South Carolina, and Kentucky have changed their rules and are now allowing all voters to request a ballot without an excuse for upcoming elections this summer.

In April, a group of plaintiffs including the Texas Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against a number of state officials including Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Secretary of State Ruth Hughes over Texas’ age waiver, arguing that it violates the 26th amendment’s protections against age discrimination in voting laws.

In his decision, District Court Judge Fred Biery of the Western District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction against the state, siding with the plaintiffs in striking down the age waiver during the duration of the pandemic and ruling that Texas must allow all voters to request ballots without an excuse.

Shortly after the ruling was handed down, the defendants filed an appeal to Biery’s decision in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The Texas Election Code allows citizens over sixty-five without a disability to vote by mail. Thus, the Texas vote by mail statute provides for the health safety of mail ballots for those 65 years of age and older but not those 64 years, 364 days and younger,” Judge Biery wrote, adding, “The Court finds no rational basis for such distinction and concludes the statute also violates the clear text of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment under a strict scrutiny analysis.”

The Court also rebuked Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attempts to state that fear of contracting COVID-19 did not qualify as a legitimate disability excuse under which a voter could request an absentee ballot, finding that “lack of immunity from COVID- 19 is …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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