Texas Democrats lost another attempt to undermine state voting laws in the courts, failing for a second time to force universal vote-by-mail, a process more vulnerable to fraud and abuse than in-person voting.
Last week, a federal court rejected Democrats’ arguments that Texas’ limits on voting by mail unconstitutionally discriminate on the basis of age.
Under Texas law, only voters who are 65 or older, disabled, in jail, or outside their home county during an election are eligible to vote by mail.
The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that allowing older voters to cast mail-in ballots does not violate the 26th Amendment, which prohibits denying or abridging the right to vote on account of age.
The ruling reverses a liberal district judge’s May order that said any Texas voter could claim fear of the Chinese coronavirus as an excuse to cast a mail ballot.
The appellate court blocked that order in June, saying the coronavirus has not given unelected federal judges “a roving commission to rewrite state election codes.”
The ruling also sends the case back to district court to rehear the Texas Democrat Party’s other challenges to the state’s vote-by-mail law that they didn’t raise during the appeal.
“Allowing universal mail-in ballots, which are particularly vulnerable to fraud, would only lead to greater election fraud and disenfranchise lawful voters,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement following Thursday’s ruling.
Democrats dropped a similar state-court lawsuit after the Texas Supreme Court rejected their losing argument that fear of contracting COVID-19 is a disability that makes everyone eligible to vote by mail.
In addition to their failed efforts to expand vote-by-mail, Texas Democrats have filed a series of unsuccessful lawsuits to bypass the legislature and change state election laws via the courts, including to salvage straight-party voting, overturn a Democrat-passed ballot-order law, and revive rolling polling.
Last week, a federal judge dismissed a left-wing challenge to a long list of Texas’ in-person voting laws, while the 5th Circuit blocked a federal judge’s order to change or eliminate the state’s mail-ballot signature verification process.
The Texas lawsuits are part of a nationwide litigation strategy by Democrats and their allies on the left to use courts and fear of the coronavirus to undermine state voting laws, in hopes of gaining an edge in the 2020 presidential election. With mail ballots set to start going out to voters on September 19, Democrats’ hopes for more court-ordered election process changes taking effect this year are fading.