State Watch

Texas Supreme Court rules in favor of limiting ballot drop box locations

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The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a ruling backing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) order to limit the state’s counties to one mail-in ballot drop box each, a policy that will largely impact larger, urban and more Democratic counties. 

The court wrote in a 17-page ruling that a decision from a lower court “erred” in blocking the order and that the policy would “not disenfranchise anyone.”

Critics of the governor’s order have alleged that Abbott exceeded his authority in implementing the policy and that the rule imposes an unjust burden on residents of larger counties, which would have to deal with longer lines at the single drop box and travel farther to reach the locations.

But the Texas Supreme Court disagreed, saying voters can also cast ballots in person for an expanded period of time during the coronavirus and 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 opinion read, adding that “voters who are worried about it can mail their ballots in plenty of time before Election Day to eliminate the chance of untimely delivery.” 

A federal appeals court also ruled this month that Abbott’s rule could proceed.

Among the counties hit hardest by the rule will be Harris County, home to Houston, which had dropped its 12 drop-off spots to just one. The county is hosting a competitive congressional race and will be a key area where Democrats will need to see boosted turnout if they hope to deliver Texas’s 38 electoral votes to former Vice President Joe Biden.

Texas has already seen a massive spike in voting, with the number of early ballots cast surpassing 80 percent of the state’s 2016 turnout in total.

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