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Supreme Court declines to fast-track Texas Democrats' bid to expand mail-in voting before July primary

The Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request by Texas Democrats to fast-track a review of the party's effort to expand mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The unsigned order ensures that the Supreme Court will not hear the Democrats' challenge before the state's primary runoff on July 14.

The court last week also denied their request for an order to expand mail-in voting ahead of the primary while the legal challenge played out in the lower courts.

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Texas currently only allows absentee ballots from elderly, disabled, incarcerated or traveling voters. The state's Democrats have been seeking to expand the definition of "disabled" to include those who fear coronavirus exposure during in-person voting.

A district court judge had ordered the state to expand access to mail-in ballots last month only to be overruled by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court could still decide to hear the case, but the earliest that could happen is likely the fall.

"We still expect the case to be heard in mid-August," Abhi Rahman, a Texas Democratic Party spokesman, said in a statement. "Texas Democrats will never stop fighting for the right for everybody to vote. Every Texan should be able to vote safely and without the fear of contracting a deadly disease."

Last week, after the court denied its request for a stay, the party said it was disappointed but "hope remains that the federal courts will restore equal voting rights in time for the November elections."

--This report was updated at 11:30 a.m.