Texas counties will likely be allowed just one drop-off location for mail-in ballots, state Supreme Court docket guidelines


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In what’s anticipated to be the ultimate ruling on the matter, the Texas Supreme Court docket has upheld Gov. Greg Abbott’s order limiting Texas counties to just one drop-off location for voters handy ship their absentee ballots throughout the pandemic.

The ruling, issued Tuesday by the all-Republican courtroom, is the ultimate final result in certainly one of a handful of lawsuits in state and federal courts that challenged Abbott’s order from early this month. A federal appeals courtroom additionally sided with the Republican governor in an earlier ruling, overturning a decrease courtroom’s determination.

The state lawsuit argued that the governor doesn’t have authority below state regulation to restrict absentee poll hand-delivery areas, and that his order violates voters’ equal safety rights below the state structure. The swimsuit was filed in Travis County by a Texas-based Anti-Defamation League, a voting rights advocacy group and a voter.

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Of their opinion, the justices wrote that Abbott’s order “offers Texas voters extra methods to vote within the November 3 election than does the Election Code. It doesn’t disenfranchise anybody.”

A Travis County state district choose had sided with the plaintiffs pushing to permit a number of drop-off websites, and an intermediate appeals courtroom upheld that ruling Friday. No extra websites had been allowed to open throughout the appeals course of, nonetheless.

Because the coronavirus continued to hazard Texans, counties — typically extra populous, largely Democratic ones — started to search for methods to develop voting entry within the fall election. Republicans have repeatedly challenged such expansions, like loosening Texas’ strict restrictions on who can vote by mail or permitting for drive-thru voting, in courtroom. The Texas Supreme Court docket has stored Texas’ limitations on mail-in voting however allowed drive-thru voting in Harris County to proceed.

Abbott issued an emergency order in July that lengthened the early voting interval and prolonged the time voters must ship accomplished absentee ballots in particular person to county clerk workplaces. In typical elections, Texas voters who want to ship their absentee ballots in particular person can solely accomplish that on Election Day. That order, too, was unsuccessfully challenged by some Republicans, however in the end Abbott rolled again his growth for hand supply of absentee ballots.

After Harris and Travis counties opened 12 and 4 drop-off websites at county clerk workplaces, respectively, the governor issued a brand new order Oct. 1 permitting counties only one drop-off location every. Abbott and Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs mentioned the limiting order was enacted after Hughs realized that no less than one county deliberate to simply accept hand-delivered absentee poll functions at invalid county workplaces. The state additionally needed ballot watchers at every website accepting such ballots.

Texas doesn’t have drop-off containers for absentee ballots, as do another states. As a substitute, to drop off a mail-in poll in particular person at any location, voters should current an accredited type of identification to a ballot employee, and voters could not flip in anyone else’s poll.

A number of voting proper teams rapidly challenged the governor’s limiting order, and three Democratic chairs of high-profile congressional committees referred to as the transfer an obvious “last-ditch effort to suppress Texans’ skill to vote.”

The litigation, certainly one of a plethora on voting entry in Texas throughout the fall election, was settled Tuesday night with three days left of early voting. Election Day is Nov. 3.

Disclosure: The Texas secretary of state has been a monetary supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan information group that’s funded partly by donations from members, foundations and company sponsors. Monetary supporters play no position within the Tribune’s journalism. Discover a full checklist of them right here.

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