President Donald Trump and Texas Republicans just won a significant, though potentially short-term, victory in court on Saturday in terms of protecting the integrity of the upcoming elections.
The Texas Supreme Court issued a temporary stay on an appeals court ruling overturning an order by Gov. Greg Abbott that limited all counties in the state to only one drop-off box for the hand-delivery of absentee ballots.
The stay reinstates the governor’s prohibition against multiple drop-off boxes in any county, at least while the high court conducts a full review of the appeals court ruling allowing multiple boxes that had been issued on Friday.
Both sides of the case were given a deadline of 5 PM on Monday to submit response briefs that will aid the high court in determining whether or not to take any action on the issue, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Abbott’s order challenged
Reuters reported that the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on Friday to uphold a lower state court’s order striking down Gov. Abbott’s ban on multiple absentee ballot drop-off boxes in any county that had been issued on Oct. 1, a measure intended to reduce the risk of potential election fraud.
As a result of Abbott’s order, more than a dozen satellite drop-off locations that had been established in several counties had to be closed down, a move that had infuriated state Democrats and voting rights advocacy groups, prompting the legal challenge against the governor.
The appeals court had agreed with the lower court that placing such limits on the number of drop-off boxes in a county could result in voters being exposed to a greater risk of contracting the coronavirus by forcing everyone in a county to travel to one location and wait in long lines in close proximity with others.
In addition, it was also argued that some voters’ rights could be infringed upon by the limitations imposed on the counties by the governor.
Democrats sought to take advantage of earlier order
According to the Texas Tribune, the whole case stemmed from an emergency order issued by Abbott in July that extended the period for early voting as well as the span of time during which voters could hand-deliver absentee ballots to a county clerk’s office.
The order was seized upon by several large, Democrat-run counties to establish multiple satellite drop-off locations for the ballots, prompting Abbott to issue restrictions on Oct. 1.
Of course, Abbott’s Oct. 1 order was decried by the left as an effort to suppress Democratic voters, hence the lawsuit that initially found favor with a county-level state district court and the appeals court.
It will be very interesting to see how the Texas Supreme Court ultimately rules on this case with little more than a week to go before the election, but at least for the time being, it has erred on the side of protecting the integrity of the vote.