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Texas Supreme Court: Only 1 ballot drop-off location in counties

The court docket upheld Abbott’s authority underneath state regulation to restrict ballot drop-off places, which stands out as the closing ruling in quite a few lawsuits that challenged his order.

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

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

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

In their opinion, the justices wrote that Abbott’s order “provides Texas voters more ways to vote in the November 3 election than does the Election Code. It does not disenfranchise anyone.”

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

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

Abbott did problem an emergency order in July that lengthened the early voting interval and prolonged the time voters need to 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 finally Abbott rolled again his enlargement 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 on 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 at the very least one county deliberate to just accept hand-delivered absentee ballot purposes at invalid county workplaces. The state additionally needed ballot watchers at every web site accepting such ballots.

Texas doesn’t have drop-off bins for absentee ballots, as do another states. Instead, to drop off a mail-in ballot in particular person at any location, voters should current an accepted type of identification to a ballot employee, and voters might not flip in anybody else’s ballot.

Multiple 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’ ability to vote.”

The litigation, considered one of a plethora on voting entry in Texas through the fall election, was settled Tuesday night with three full days left of early voting. Election Day is Nov. 3.
This story is from our information companions on the Texas Tribune. You can read more here.

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