The Supreme Court on Friday dealt a blow to Texas Democrats who had asked the justices to allow expanded access to mail-in voting ahead of the state's primary runoff next month.
The justices let stand an appeals court ruling that halted a U.S. district judge's previous order allowing any voter who cites concerns about the pandemic to vote by mail.
Under current Texas rules, only voters with a “qualifying reason” — advanced age, disability, incarceration or planned travel — can mail in ballots. Republican state officials oppose broadening the criteria, citing the potential for fraud, though election analysts and fact-checkers have found that voting fraud targeting mail-in balloting is extremely rare.
Texas Democrats have sought for months to expand the definition of “disability” to include those with concerns about the potential health implications of in-person voting during a pandemic.
The issue sparked months of court fights and prompted the state party's request that the Supreme Court pause the appeals court ruling — which the justices denied Friday.
“We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not weigh in now and provide needed relief and clarity for voters ahead of the primary runoff," Texas Democratic Party Chairperson Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement.
In their stay request, the Texas Democrats told the justices that by limiting the right to cast mail-in ballots to those 65 and older, the Texas rules violate the 26th Amendment’s bar on abridging the right to vote based on age.
The group made the same argument in a formal petition for appeal, which is unlikely to be resolved ahead of the state's July 14 primary vote but could be addressed before Election Day in November.