The widespread effort to expand mail-in voting ahead of November’s election hit a roadblock this week with a U.S. Supreme Court decision to drop a lower court’s ruling.
Texas Democrats hoped to compel the state to allow all voters the opportunity to vote remotely amid an ongoing pandemic, but the nation’s highest court declined to take up an appeals court’s decision against them, as reported by the Washington Times.
State law allows only disabled or elderly voters to vote by mail, with exceptions for those with a valid reason for being unable to make it to a local polling place.
“Notoriously vulnerable to fraud”
Democrats hoped to expand access to all voters, arguing that fear of contracting COVID-19 should be considered a disability and that limiting access to voters over the age of 65 constituted age discrimination.
While a federal district court initially sided with them, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals struck that ruling down. The Texas Supreme Court additionally weighed in, ruling that fear of the virus does not count as a disability but leaving the final decision up to state officials.
After the U.S. Supreme Court declined the case, GOP leaders in the state, including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, declared it a win.
“Universal mail-in ballots, which are notoriously vulnerable to fraud, would only lead to greater election fraud and disenfranchise lawful voters,” he asserted.
Paxton discussed the issue in a Fox & Friends appearance on Saturday morning, echoing President Donald Trump’s concerns about voting by mail.
“A team of lawyers and investigators”
“In Texas, the Legislature has tried to balance this idea of if people are out of town or they can’t vote, we allow them to vote,” he said. “But we also know there is a risk, a higher risk of voter fraud, with these mail-in ballots. So they have limited it.”
The attorney general went on to discount the argument by many Democrats that reports of voter fraud have been overblown.
“Well, they obviously haven’t been investigating fraud in my state,” Paxton said. “Because we have a team of lawyers and investigators [whose] sole job is to investigate voter fraud.”
Trump tweeted on Friday that the Supreme Court ruling is a “Big WIN” for the state. Those voters across Texas and beyond who remain skeptical of mail-in ballots would agree.