Order limiting Texas counties to one mail-in ballot drop-off location shut down by U.S. judge

Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A U.S. district judge granted an injunction Friday which bars enforcement of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order limiting counties to a single mail-in ballot drop-off location.

Abbott issued the order Oct. 1, when voting was already underway, according to the judge.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman said the order would create confusion among voters and place an unnecessary weight on some to travel far distances and wait in long lines.

Pitman said these types of burdens “fall disproportionately on voters who are elderly, disabled, or live in larger counties.”

The Texas Democratic Party said Abbott’s “attempt to suppress Texas voters has been thwarted,” of the judge’s ruling.

Both county officials and groups looking to empower voters have previously voiced their displeasure about Abbott’s order.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir called the order “deliberately disruptive,” saying it came at an inconvenient time. Travis County Elections had to shut down two other drop-off locations after the order was put through as a result.

“We have all had since July 27, when the original order came out for this project,” DeBeauvoir said on Oct. 1. “He could have said that he had a problem with it at any time up until just today.”

The Travis County Clerk’s Office said it’s “grateful” for the court ruling.

“Travis County Elections will do everything possible to assure that voters receive clear information and advice about the newest ruling, and that the ballot of every eligible voter is counted,” the office said in a statement.

A joint lawsuit challenging Abbott’s order was put through by groups including the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the Texas League of United Latin American Citizens, National League of United Latin American Citizens and the League of Women Voters of Texas.

On Friday, LULAC National President Domingo Garcia said, in a statement: “Governor Greg Abbott is trying to prey on the fear of the pandemic which will keep Hispanics from wanting to risk their lives by going to the polls in person. Instead, they and many other qualified, legal voters prefer to safeguard their well-being by dropping off their ballot at authorized locations near them and today’s injunction guarantees they will be able to do so.”

KXAN has reached out to the governor’s office and is awaiting a response back.

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