Civil Rights Groups File Yet Another Suit Challenging Texas' Refusal to Expand Mail-In Voting

Flickr / Erik (HASH) Hersman
A coalition of voters and civil rights groups has sued Texas over its refusal to expand use of mail-in ballots, adding yet another legal challenge to the state's handling of voting during the pandemic.

In the suit filed Monday in San Antonio federal court, Voto Latino, NAACP Texas and the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans argue that the state's current rules risk disenfranchising voters, especially those of color. Five Texas voters with medical conditions are also among the plaintiffs.

At least two other high-profile suits challenge the state's narrow absentee voting rules, which primarily restrict mail-in voting to the elderly and people with disabilities. They argue those rules put people at risk for COVID-19 infection by requiring them to stand in lines at crowded polls.

Texas Republicans have dug in their heels over a potential expansion of absentee voting, saying the existing rules are clear. Attorney General Ken Paxton earlier this month sent a letter threatening to prosecute local elections officials if they advise voters who normally wouldn't qualify for a mail-in ballot that they may submit one because of the pandemic.

The suit filed Monday focuses on the mechanics of absentee voting, including the requirement that voters pay their own postage, the window of time during which the ballots can be cast, signature-matching requirements and the amount of assistance available for people who absentee vote.

“The actions of Texas’s highest elected officials are nothing more than a shameless ploy to disenfranchise millions of Texan voters by forcing them to choose between their health and safety, and their constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote,” said Voto Latino Founding President and CEO María Teresa Kumar.

She added: "The executive branch of Texas is weaponizing a global crisis in order to suppress the vote of their own constituents.”

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