“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. But the State acknowledges that election officials have no responsibility to question or investigate a ballot application that is valid on its face,” the opinion delivered by Chief Justice Nathan Hecht said.
Paxton hailed the decision as he has repeatedly argued that expanded application of a “disability” could lead to voter fraud.
“Election officials have a duty to reject mail-in ballot applications from voters who are not entitled to vote by mail. 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,” he said in a Wednesday night statement.
The decision was immediately met with backlash from the Texas Democratic Party, which has been the lead plaintiffs in the ongoing federal and state cases to expand vote-by-mail to the state’s younger electorate.
“Now, unless the federal court steps in, because of the Texas Republican Supreme Court, voters will have to either risk standing in line and contracting the coronavirus or they’ll risk prosecution by indicted Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton and his grand juries for simply requesting a mail-in-ballot,” said Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa following the ruling.
At the same time, the state’s next election is fast approaching. Texas has a July 14 primary runoff election. The last day to apply for a mail-in ballot is July 2.