Texas Democrats have abandoned one of their two lawsuits aimed at forcing the state to allow everyone to vote by mail, a process ripe for fraud and abuse, after the Texas Supreme Court dealt a blow to their key argument. The state is still fighting a second Democrat vote-by-mail lawsuit in federal court.
On Wednesday, the Texas Democrat Party and allies including the League of Women Voters dropped their original suit, filed in state court, claiming that county election officials should disregard state voting laws and accept every mail-ballot application marked “disability” for the remainder of 2020, and possibly beyond.
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 argued fear of contracting the coronavirus at the polls should qualify all voters to claim they are disabled and request a mail ballot.
A Democrat judge in a state district court in Travis County sided with the Democrats, but that court’s order was put on hold while Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed.
Meanwhile, the Texas Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the Democrats in a related case, finding “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.
That ruling, sought by Paxton’s team, crushed Democrats’ hopes of winning the issue in state court.
In the Texas Democrat Party’s second vote-by-mail lawsuit, filed in federal court, Democrats received another favorable ruling from a liberal judge that would have allowed all Texas voters to request a mail ballot. In their federal suit, Democrats claimed Texas’ limits on voting by mail are unconstitutionally discriminatory.
Paxton fought that ruling as well, and the order is now on hold pending an appeal in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Texas Democrat Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said they will pursue the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This is a critical win for Texas and a lesson to other states: defending your mail voting systems in the face of lawless demands is worthwhile and just,” said voting law expert J. Christian Adams, who heads election integrity law firm Public Interest Legal Foundation, in a statement following the 5th Circuit’s ruling.
“Mail voting is the most susceptible to fraud, and your laws are designed to prevent disenfranchisement,” Adams said. “Fear isn’t a disability. The efforts to suggest otherwise in Texas demonstrate just how far the Left is willing to go to rewrite election laws in the face of the pandemic.”
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 pursued for years but failed to enact in state legislatures.
Opponents of expanding vote-by-mail in Texas point out mail voting is inherently less secure than in-person voting. Votes cast by mail are far more vulnerable to fraud and abuse like ballot harvesting, voter intimidation, and tampering, as well as misdelivery by the postal service. They also worry election administrators may not be equipped to handle a sudden massive increase in mail balloting.
Courts have said it’s a question for elected lawmakers to decide.
Circuit Judge Jerry Smith wrote in the federal appellate court’s opinion that the coronavirus has not given unelected federal judges “a roving commission to rewrite state election codes.”
Though loopholes remain in Texas’ mail-voting law, the current limits on who is eligible to vote by mail remain in place for 2020.