Texas Supreme Court puts expansion of voting by mail on hold

Mail-in ballot application. (Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)

(Texas Tribune) – The Texas Supreme Court on Friday temporarily put on hold the expansion of voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic.

Siding with Attorney General Ken Paxton, the Supreme Court blocked a state appeals court decision that allowed voters who lack immunity to the virus to qualify for an absentee ballot by citing a disability. That appellate decision upheld a lower court's order that would have allowed more people to qualify to vote by mail. The state's Supreme Court has not weighed the merits of the case.

It’s the latest in an ongoing legal squabble that in the last three days has resulted in daily changes to who can qualify for a ballot they can fill out at home and mail in.

Paxton asked the Supreme Court to intervene the day after a state appeals court let stand a ruling from state District Judge Tim Sulak that susceptibility to the coronavirus counts as a disability under the state election code, and is therefore legally valid reason for voters to request absentee ballots.

The Supreme Court’s Friday decision means that order will remain blocked while the appeal of the case moves forward.

This is a developing story.