Texas’s Supreme Court backed Gov. Greg Abbott Tuesday over his orders limiting counties to one ballot drop box apiece, ruling that he was still offering voters more choices than they usually had under state law.
The justices said there is no constitutional right to cast a ballot specifically by drop box, nor does the size of a county determine whether a voter is being mistreated.
And limiting counties to one box apiece “plausibly decreases the opportunity for fraud,” the court ruled.
Under state law, voters usually can only drop off ballots on Election Day. Mr. Abbott, flexing emergency powers, ordered counties to accept ballots for several weeks beforehand this year.
Initially he also allowed multiple ballot boxes but he quickly narrowed his order, saying that for the sake of voter integrity only one box per county would be allowed.
Residents in massive jurisdictions such as Harris County, home to Houston and nearly 5 million people, complained that was unrealistic.
But the justices said Mr. Abbott was within his boundaries.
“Limiting the number of drop-off locations — while still expanding voting options relative to the statutory baseline—was a rational means of achieving the valid goals of ballot integrity, fraud prevention, and voter access,” the court said.
The ruling overturned lower court decisions that had gone against the governor.
A federal appeals court has also ruled in support of Mr. Abbott.
Both the state Supreme Court and the federal appeals court also backed the governor in another case earlier this year over attempts to expand the state’s absentee voting.
Texas is one of a handful of states requiring voters to have a specific reason to request an absentee ballot this year. Being a senior citizen, disabled, or absent from the state are valid excuses.
Voting-rights groups had argued fear of contracting the coronavirus should count as a disability, allowing any other to cast an absentee ballot. Lower courts agreed, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court both rejected those arguments, saying they would make a mockery of the state’s laws.
Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.