State judge says limiting ballot drop-off locations ‘likely needlessly’ increases risk of COVID-19 exposure

Travis County

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect Dana DeBeauvoir provided a statement from the Travis County Clerk’s office.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A state court has placed a temporary injunction on Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order that limited counties to only one mail-in ballot drop off location, which halts the order.

“The limitation to a single drop-off location for mail ballots would likely needlessly
and unreasonably increase risks of exposure to COVID-19 infections, and needlessly and
unreasonably substantially burden potential voters’ constitutionally protected rights to
vote, as a consequence of increased travel and delays, among other things,” wrote Judge Tim Sulak, of the 353rd District Court in Travis County.

“This is great news for voters,” said Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir in a statement. “We worry that another court will step in and stop this good news. We’re in contact with the county attorney’s office to keep up to date.”

On Oct. 1 Abbott issued the order designed to “maintain the integrity of our elections,” according to a release at the time. While many counties, like Hays and Williamson, already only had one drop-off location, others like Travis and Harris had planned on having multiple places for people to drop off their mail-in ballots.

This case stemmed from a lawsuit from the Anti-Defamation League Austin, Southwest and Texoma Regions challenging the executive order and arguing it violated Texas Elections Code. A similar lawsuit was also filed by Texas League of United Latin American Citizens; the National League of United Latin American Citizens; the League of Women Voters of Texas; and two voters in federal court. While a judge had initially put in an injunction that would mean the boxes could not be limited, an appeals court reinstated the limit in a decision this week.

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