The litigation centers on whether the coronavirus pandemic is a legitimate reason for a voter to request a mail-in ballot under the umbrella of "disability."
Current Texas Election Code states qualified voters may request mail-in ballots if they expect to be absent from their voting jurisdiction on election day, are over the age of 65, are confined in jail, or claim disability.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled May 27 a voter's lack of immunity to the coronavirus is not a disability under the definition in Texas Election Code, the Texas Tribune reports.
In a separate case, a federal appeals court on May 20 put a temporary hold on a May 19 ruling by a federal district judge who ruled Texas could not deny voters access to mail ballots on the basis of age for elections that take place during the pandemic.
“We are fighting to expand the freedom of choice for our voters to ensure they can both protect themselves and participate in the increasingly important Democratic process,” Fort Bend County Judge KP George said in a May 27 press release.
He, Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage and Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken DeMerchant—the court’s Democrats—voted in favor of the motion to support “the ability of our elections department to provide safe and fair elections to our voters and election workers,” according to the motion read by Prestage at the May 26 court meeting.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales and Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers—the court's Republicans—voted against the motion. Before the vote, Meyers discussed his opinion on the matter.
“Just for the record, our election administrator points out that the greatest amount of voter fraud [occurs] by mail,” he said. “[It has] had bad actors in both political parties, and I really think it's extremely bad policy to provide an opportunity for bad actors to act badly.”