Texas Supreme Court blocks plan to allow mail-in ballots amid coronavirus

The Texas Supreme Court has blocked a plan to allow voters who fear the coronavirus to use mail-in ballots for the November election.

The court late Friday granted a stay that overruled a lower-court order that had temporarily lifted mail-in voting restrictions to allow residents to vote by mail if they cite concerns about catching the coronavirus at polling places, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Republican state Attorney General Ken Paxton spearheaded the effort to stop the mail-in voting initiative and had petitioned the Supreme Court for the stay.

The high court’s order stops the distribution of mail-in ballots to those who fear getting infected by voting in person for the election, at least until Paxton’s appeal is heard later this week.

“I am pleased that today the Texas Supreme Court confirmed that my office may continue to prosecute voter fraud and issue guidance on mail-in ballots” while an appeal plays out, Paxton said in a statement.

Paxton’s appeal is scheduled to be heard Wednesday.

Two lower courts had previously upheld the mail-in effort.

Under state law, Texas allows residents over the age of 65 to vote by mail as well as any voter who has a disability, military service members and residents who will be out of town for an election.

Democratic leaders in the state chastised state officials for trying to force voters potentially into harm’s way.

“I’m shocked, frankly, that the state of Texas even today, in these circumstances where so many people are suffering, that they’re fighting tooth and nail to try to make grandmothers [who are] 64 years old go and vote in person,” Chad Dunn, an attorney for the Democratic Party, told the paper.

“Couldn’t be more surprised.”

Supporters of the mail-in movement are making the legal argument that the risk of catching the coronavirus should be considered a disability under the law.

“This effort by Paxton and the rest of the Republican Party to make people choose between exercising their right to vote and exercising their right to live is just an affront to everything that this democracy stands for,” state Democratic chairman Gilberto Hinojosa told the outlet.

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