Coronavirus

Texas Democrats Ask for Mail-In Voting Help from the Supreme Court

Your hopes for voting by mail likely rest with the U.S. Supreme Court. Feeling lucky?
Your hopes for voting by mail likely rest with the U.S. Supreme Court. Feeling lucky? Shutterstock
click to enlarge Your hopes for voting by mail likely rest with the U.S. Supreme Court. Feeling lucky? - SHUTTERSTOCK
Your hopes for voting by mail likely rest with the U.S. Supreme Court. Feeling lucky?
Shutterstock
Your hopes for voting absentee in July 14's primary runoffs — assuming you aren't over the age of 65, physically unable to vote in person or planning to be out of the county in which you're registered throughout early voting and on Election Day — now rest with the United States Supreme Court.

Tuesday afternoon, the Texas Democratic Party announced that it's pushing its battle against Texas' mail-in voting laws to the highest court, after running into brick walls at the Texas Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Those courts sided with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who's repeatedly argued that fear of contracting COVID-19 is not a legitimate disability and that expanding mail-in voting will lead to widespread voter fraud in the state.

The plaintiffs in the case — three voters who say they would vote by mail were it legal to do so in Texas — claim that they're being discriminated against based on the 26th Amendment, which bans voter discrimination based on age, as long as the person in question is older than 18.

"There’s no logical reason for those whose 65th birthday is the day after Election Day to have to go to the polling place in person while their 65-year-old spouse can vote a mail ballot." — Gilberto Hinojosa

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“We started this case promising Texas voters that we’d never stop fighting for their right to vote. Today, we are continuing our promise by petitioning the United States Supreme Court to provide all Texans their free, fair, and equal right to vote," Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said Tuesday in a statement. “There’s no logical reason for those whose 65th birthday is the day after Election Day to have to go to the polling place in person while their 65-year-old spouse can vote a mail ballot — especially during the worst pandemic in a century."


Chad Dunn, the Texas Democratic Party's general counsel, said on a conference call Tuesday that the plaintiffs are seeking two things: First, they want the Supreme Court to lift the stay issued by the 5th Circuit that prevented a lower-court ruling expanding access to mail-in voting from going into effect.

Second, Texas Democrats want the court to agree to hear the full case before November's general election.

"This application concerns applicants’ right to vote, and whether they and millions of other Texas voters will be able to exercise that fundamental right in the midst of a global pandemic which grows worse by the day in Texas, without risk to their health and — without hyperbole — to their lives," the Democrats say in their filing asking that the stay be lifted.

According to The Washington Post, Texas is one of only two states that has refused to allow all of its residents to cast ballots by mail in 2020 primaries scheduled for after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young