Texas Democrats are taking their push to force universal mail voting directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, bypassing the appeals process in hopes of expanding the fraud-prone practice in time for the upcoming 2020 elections.

On Tuesday, the Texas Democrat Party petitioned the Court to decide if the Lone Star State must allow everyone to vote by mail, a process far more vulnerable to fraud and abuse than in-person voting.

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.

Democrats are claiming the law’s age limit for mail voting violates the 26th Amendment, which says the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.”

Democrats also want justices to reinstate a liberal judge’s ruling in a federal lawsuit they filed, which would have allowed all Texas voters to vote by mail due to fear of the coronavirus “during the pendency of pandemic circumstances.”

That ruling was put on hold by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which found the state was likely to prevail over the Democrats in the appeal.

The appellate court said the coronavirus has not given unelected federal judges “a roving commission to rewrite state election codes” and “has not suddenly obligated Texas to do what the Constitution has never been interpreted to command, which is to give everyone the right to vote by mail.”

They also noted the constitutional violation, if one is found, would be remedied by “leveling down” and eliminating the age exception allowing voters 65 and older to vote by mail.

Last week, Texas Democrats admitted defeat in a second vote-by-mail expansion case, dropping a losing state-court lawsuit in which they argued fear of contracting coronavirus at the polls should qualify all voters to claim a disability and request a mail ballot.

The Texas Supreme Court shot down Democrats’ key argument in that case, ruling “a lack of immunity to COVID-19 is not itself a ‘physical condition’ that renders a voter eligible to vote by mail” under the state’s voting laws.

The Texas lawsuits are part of Democrats’ nationwide strategy to use courts and the coronavirus crisis to push universal vote-by-mail and other election policy goals they’ve failed to enact in state legislatures.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has fought Democrats’ efforts to undermine the state’s mail-voting laws.

“Allowing universal mail-in ballots, which are particularly vulnerable to fraud, would only lead to greater election fraud and disenfranchise lawful voters,” Paxton said.

The Court is unlikely to change state voting rules for Texas’ upcoming July 14 primary runoffs, but Democrats are also requesting an expedited review and ruling before the November general election.

A response from the state is due by June 22.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.