Victory For Voting By Mail — Judge Strikes Down Limitations In Texas Case

As the 2020 U.S. Presidential election draws near, the long-fought battle for voting access is focused tightly on one specific aspect: voting by mail. While absentee ballots have always been a part of the voting process, some states place limitations on this option. Now that voters are concerned about the safety of in-person voting, especially with no certainty about when the second wave of COVID-19 might hit, these restrictions have become a higher priority for voting rights advocates. In Texas, these advocates just won a major victory.

in November, Texans can vote by mail
[Photos by SAUL LOEB and JIM WATSON / AFP]

Absentee voting is a standard for deployed military members, and people who can’t reach the polls for reasons such as convalescence or being out of the country often request absentee ballots. However, many states place restrictions on who can vote by mail. Vote.org has a list of these restrictions by state. Seventeen states that require a valid explanation of the need to vote by mail accept reasons such as deployment, illness, religious restrictions, or advanced age.

In Texas, the list of acceptable reasons to vote by mail includes being over the age of 65 years.

On Tuesday, however, U.S. District Judge Fred Biery struck down the law, siding with the Texas Democratic Party and individual voters. Raw Story reports that the judge agreed that this would impose additional burdens on voters under the age of 65, and ruled the limitation unconstitutional.

The Texas Democratic Party shared a press release, quoting the judge.

Americans now seek Life without fear of pandemic, Liberty to choose their leaders in an environment free of disease and the pursuit of Happiness without undue restrictions.

The ruling will likely be appealed, but the case may only be the first of many across the country as voters seek to cast ballots from the safety of their homes. Even before this ruling, 28 states and the District of Columbia offered absentee voting upon request, with no excuses or explanations needed. Additionally, five other states are holding their elections entirely by mail. Though transition may be complicated, voting in U.S. elections by mail-in ballot is far from new. With Judge Biery’s ruling, Texas voters will be able to do so too.

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