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Federal judge allows mail-in ballots in Texas

Texas federal judge Fred Biery, on May 20, ruled that all voters afraid of catching COVID-19 can request absentee mail-in ballots due to the pandemic.

Biery ruled that "disability" extends to registered voters who lack immunity from COVID-19 and fear infection at polling places. Texas' election code defines "disability" as "a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter's health."

In his decision, which opens with paragraph 2 from the Declaration of Independence, Biery writes, "two hundred forty-four years on, 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."

"The Court finds such fear and anxiety is inextricably intertwined with voters' physical health," Biery said. "Such apprehension will limit citizens' rights to cast their votes in person. The Court also finds that lack of immunity from Covid-19 is indeed a physical condition."

The ruling will remain in effect until the case goes to trial, or the pandemic ends.

Texas law allows voting by mail for absentees (those who will be away from home for all of early voting and on election day), voters age sixty-five or older, and those with a "disability," which prevents them from voting in person.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton immediately released a statement saying that he would seek an immediate review by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The district court’s opinion ignores the evidence and disregards well-established law," Paxton said in a release. "We will seek immediate review by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals."

The decision comes four days after the Texas Supreme Court issued a decision stopping Dallas, Cameron, El Paso, Harris and Travis from issuing mail-in ballots. Biery's decision makes absentee voting available to all registered Texan voters.

The next election is the primary runoff election on July 14, 2020, with no local candidates involved in Young County. Information about the local runoff election can be found on the election tab of the county’s website at co.young.tx.us.

The Graham Leader

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