AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wants Gov. Greg Abbott's order to restrict mail-in ballot drop-off locations to one per county to be enforced.
On Saturday, Paxton filed an emergency motion to block a federal judge's preliminary injunction, granted on Friday, that bars the enforcement of Abbott's Oct. 1 order limiting ballot drop-off locations to one per county. Paxton's office said his motion is pending appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman said Abbott's order placed an unacceptable burden on the voting rights of elderly and disabled Texans, a group likely to request absentee ballots and especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
Paxton, however, believes Abbott's order enhanced ballot security, according to his office. Abbott himself has stated that was the proclamation's intention.
"The district court’s order undermines our election security, disrupts the democratic process and will only lead to voter confusion. It cannot stand," Paxton said. "Mail-in ballots are particularly vulnerable to fraud. Protections that ensure their security must be upheld and my office will continue to fight for safe, free and fair elections."
Shortly after Abbott issued the proclamation on Oct. 1, several groups sued him and other elected officials. The National and Texas League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) filed federal suit first on Oct. 1, claiming the governor’s order "engenders voter confusion and undermines the public’s confidence in the election itself."
Luis Roberto Vera, who serves as national general counsel for LULAC, said he hopes the appeals court doesn't rule in Paxton's favor.
"We're working round the clock, answering here and the appeals court in Ohio [where there's a similar case], to keep this alive," Vera said. "This is a different kind of case; it's a different world. So we're praying that the Fifth Circuit does what they know is the right thing to do."
Richard Fiesta, the executive director of the group's national chapter, the Alliance for Retired Americans, disagrees with Abbott and Paxton's claims that having multiple drop-off locations could lead to voter fraud.
"Texas has a very tight system. It's not a box like a mailbox where you go drop your ballot. There's a county official there who checks your I.D., who takes the ballot, puts it in a box, which is then secured by county personnel every day. It's the closest thing you can get to a foolproof system. And the governor's proclamation makes no light of that. It's just voter intimidation and suppression," Fiesta said.
A third federal lawsuit was filed Oct. 6 by the Texas State Conference of the NAACP branches, claiming the governor’s proclamation was a "thinly veiled attempt to suppress the vote under the guise of 'enhancing ballot security.'" A hearing for that case has not been set.
A fourth lawsuit, filed in the Travis County District Court by the Anti-Defamation League, alleged the governor’s proclamation "violates the Texas constitution – in addition to being inconsistent with principles of efficient election administration and fundamental fairness to all Texas voters." That case was assigned to Travis County’s 353rd Civil District Court but a hearing has not been set.
PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING: