A federal judge blocked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order limiting mail-in ballot drop-off locations to one per county.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled that the order placed an undue burden on the voting rights of the elderly and the disabled, two groups most likely to request a mail-in ballot, KVUE reported.
Unlike some states that automatically send out mail-in ballots, Texas has certain criteria voters must meet to request a mail-in ballot.
Voters must be 65 or older, disabled or sick, out of the county on Election Day and during the early voting period, or be incarcerated but otherwise eligible.
The judge’s decision noted that sick and elderly voters are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, meaning that if they had to travel far to drop off their ballots, they would be putting themselves at risk for catching the virus.
By limiting ballot return centers to one per county, older and disabled voters living in Texas’s largest and most populous counties must travel further distances to more crowded ballot return centers where they would be at an increased risk of being infected by the coronavirus in order to exercise their right to vote and have it counted.
Pitman added that if absentee voters choose not to deliver their ballot to a drop-off area, they risk being disenfranchised if the U.S. Postal Service does not deliver their ballots in time.
“By forcing absentee voters to risk infection with a deadly disease to return their ballots in person or disenfranchisement if [USPS] is unable to deliver their ballots in time, the October 1 Order imposes a burden on an already vulnerable voting population,” he said.
On October 1, Abbott issued a proclamation that limited mail-in ballot drop-off locations to one per county. Shortly after the proclamation was issued, several advocacy groups sued the governor and other elected officials.