A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that during the coronavirus pandemic, every registered voter in Texas can apply to vote by mail.
Under state voting rules, absentee ballots can only be sent to Texans who are disabled, 65 or older, in jail, or have plans to be out of their county on the day of an election. The Texas Democratic Party argued that the coronavirus would place in-person voters at risk, putting unconstitutional and illegal burdens on them, and absentee voting needed to be expanded.
U.S. District Judge Fred Biery agreed, saying the right to vote "should not be elusively based on the whims of nature." Americans, he wrote, "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."
The Texas attorney general's office opposed the expansion of absentee voting, claiming there is widespread fraud in states where more people use mail-in ballots, but Biery wrote in his ruling the office cited "little or no evidence" and the court "finds the Grim Reaper's scepter of pandemic disease and death is far more serious than an unsupported fear of voter fraud in this sui generis experience. Indeed, if vote by mail fraud is real, logic dictates that all voting should be in person." In a statement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he will appeal.