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A court ruling by a federal judge on Tuesday has expanded mail-in voting to all of the voters in Texas amidst fears of the coronavirus, but Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton has vowed to appeal the decision.
Democratic lawmakers across the country have been pushing to steer voters toward mail-in ballots as the coronavirus pandemic presented a health hurdle that could deter voters from appearing in person, but the battle has been uphill and marred with lawsuits as Republicans fight to sustain what Paxton calls “well-established law.”
Voting by mail in Texas is generally limited to those 65 or older or those with a “sickness or physical condition” that prevents voting in person, but Paxton has argued that fear of contracting coronavirus — which has infected nearly 50,000 people and killed at least 1,300 people in the state — is not a sufficient disability under the law.
The court disagreed in their ruling and Biery wrote, “Clearly, fear and anxiety currently gripping the United States has limited citizens’ physical movements, affected their mental senses and constricted activities, socially and economically.”
Republicans have also peddled a theory by President Trump that mail-in voting could up the chances of voter fraud, a claim which Biery refuted on Tuesday, citing scant evidence.
“It is time for a few state officers to stop trying to force people to expose themselves to COVID-19 in order to vote,” Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said.
Texas will hold primary runoff elections in July. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has already expanded early voting for that election, which will decide the nominees in key congressional races and which the yet-to-be-decided Democratic challenger will face Republican Sen. John Cornyn.
Abbott has caught flack for his efforts to charge ahead with reopening his state to save its economy, particularly after the number of cases continued to climb after he began lifting restrictions on May 1.
Abbott has defended the speed by emphasizing that hospitalizations have remained flat and infection rates have dropped since April.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.