The ruling reverses an appeals court decision on Oct. 22 that blocked Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to limit drop-off sites for absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 presidential election. While Abbott says it’s a necessary measure to prevent voter fraud, Democrats have denounced the move as voter suppression.
In a 17-page ruling (pdf), the Texas Supreme Court wrote that a decision from a lower court “erred” in blocking Abbott’s order and that the measure limiting ballot drop-box locations would “not disenfranchise anyone.”
Critics of the policy have argued that it exceeded the governor’s authority and that residents of larger counties would be burdened in having to travel further to reach the locations. They also argued it increased the risk of contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
The court disagreed, saying Texans can also cast in-person ballots for an extended period of time amid the COVID-19 pandemic, or mail in their ballots.
“The plaintiffs complain that limiting early hand-deliveries of mail-in ballots to one office per county requires more travel time for some voters. But this ignores the other options for casting their ballots that these voters have,” the ruling reads.
“Voters who are worried about it can mail their ballots in plenty of time before Election Day to eliminate the chance of untimely delivery,” it added.
As of Oct. 27, nearly 8 million Texas residents had cast ballots, approaching 90 percent of the entire 2016 vote—a higher percentage than any state in the country, according to the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida.
In Texas, only voters who are over the age of 65, have a disability, are confined to a jail, or will be out of town on Election Day can vote by mail.
The fight between Republicans and Democrats over mail-in balloting has become a defining issue of the 2020 election. Republicans have portrayed the large-scale expansion of vote-by-mail initiatives as rife with the risk of voter fraud, while Democrats have hailed it as a safety measure to protect voters amid the outbreak of the CCP virus.
Voter fraud is no myth, an elections expert told The Epoch Times this month.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said the ruling showed that the “Texas Supreme Court continues to bend the law in any which way to secure Republican political power,” adding that “four outstanding democratic women” are running for positions on the state Supreme Court this year.
President Donald Trump won the state of Texas by nine percentage points in 2016.
Tom Ozimek and Reuters contributed to this report.