AUSTIN (KXAN) — Attorney General Ken Paxton and the Texas Democratic Party have both responded to the decision from the Interim Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision on mail-in ballots.

On Thursday, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously extended its order blocking a lower court’s sweeping ruling that would have allowed all Texas voters to qualify to vote by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Texas Supreme Court in Austin ruled in May that the risk of COVID-19 or coronavirus is not by itself a disability and therefore cannot be the basis of voting by mail.

The Texas Democratic Party, the Texas Attorney General and five Texas counties have been battling over the issue of mail-in ballots. The Democrats have pursued broader provisions for mail-in voting. The A.G. opposed them.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement celebrating the decision by the court.

“I applaud the Fifth Circuit for staying the federal court’s erroneous decision and preventing widespread mail-in balloting while the case proceeds. Allowing universal mail-in ballots, which are particularly vulnerable to fraud, would only lead to greater election fraud and disenfranchise lawful voters,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The unanimous Fifth Circuit ruling puts a stop to this blatant violation of Texas law.”   

The Texas Democratic Party fired back at the Fifth Circuit Court saying the decision splits up the rights handed down by the Constitution along age lines.

“We vehemently disagree with the Fifth Circuit Court stay that was issued today. We find ourselves in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic. Voters who are rightfully worried about the safety of in-person voting should have the option to vote by mail,” said the Texas Democratic Party. “The Constitution prohibits divvying up our rights by our age, gender, or race — and the Fifth Circuit decision of today would allow voters of a certain age different voting rights than the rest of us.

The Texas Democratic Party also said the varying opinions from different courts means this issue is a vital one and should be considered by the highest judicial power.

“Judges are obviously disagreeing with one another about this important issue. Ultimately, we’re going to need direction from the United States Supreme Court.”