The US Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request from Texas Democrats to expedite a case concerning access to vote by mail in the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The court’s move makes it highly unlikely that the issue will be decided in time for the November election.
The order is the latest move in an ongoing battle between the state’s Democrats and state Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, over voting during the pandemic. Democrats argued that people shouldn’t have to choose between their right to vote and their health. Paxton has remained steadfast that expanding access to vote-by-mail could lead to voter fraud, which lacks meaningful evidence.
State regulations allow vote by mail to those who are 65 and older, voters who have a sickness or physical condition from appearing at the polls, and others who are absent from the county.
Texas Democrats and Democratic voters under age 65 brought the case and argued that the law discriminates against younger voters afraid of going to the polling place because of the pandemic.
“There are millions of voters in Texas under the age of sixty-five who would be eligible to obtain a no-excuse vote-by-mail ballot,” their lawyers told the justices in court papers.
They noted that because of the global pandemic “which grows worse by the day in Texas” some voters won’t be able to vote “without risk to their health and – without hyperbole – to their lives.”
States are beginning to see a steep increase in coronavirus cases, with Texas and Florida among those hit the hardest. They are expected to see nearly 2,000 new hospitalizations per day by mid-July, according to forecasts published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In both 2016 and 2018, approximately 25% of US voters cast ballots by mail, which includes the handful of states that conduct elections entirely by mail and traditional absentee ballots.