Appeals court halts judge's ruling allowing mail-in voting for Texans concerned about coronavirus

Appeals court halts judge's ruling allowing mail-in voting for Texans concerned about coronavirus
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A federal appeals court in Texas has issued a temporary stay of a judge's ruling expanding mail-in voting in the state for residents concerned about contracting coronavirus.

CNN reported that the court on Wednesday ordered that efforts to expand mail-in voting to all Texans, regardless of their disability status, be halted, pending the court's decision on whether to take up a state appeal.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) is challenging a federal judge's ruling Tuesday that determined the state's existing absentee voting rules placed an unconstitutional burden on state residents, given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Texas's Democratic Party has argued that the state's requirements for absentee ballot applications, which specify that ballots only be mailed to those with disabilities, are unfair and disenfranchise voters who may be at risk for the coronavirus due to other reasons not classified as disabilities under state law.

A federal judge ruled in the case Tuesday, siding with the Democrats.

"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," U.S. District Judge Fred Biery wrote in his order. “There are now some among us who would, if they could, nullify those aspirational ideas to return to the not so halcyon and not so thrilling days of yesteryear of the Divine Right of Kings.”

"The right to vote is central to our democracy," a spokesperson for the state Democratic Party said following Biery's ruling. "This ruling means eligible voters can vote by mail during this pandemic. It is time for a few state officers to stop trying to force people to expose themselves to COVID-19 in order to vote."