Federal Judge Finds Texas Election Laws Violate Equal Protection Clause

A federal judge on May 19 sided with individual Texas voters and the Texas Democratic Party (TDP), agreeing that Texas laws limiting the ability to vote by mail to a certain age group violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and that Texans would face irreparable harm if existing age requirements for voting by mail remain enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Two hundred forty years on, Americans now seek Life without fear of pandemic, Liberty to choose their leaders in an environment free of disease, and the pursuit of Happiness without undue restrictions,” U.S. District Judge Fred Biery wrote in his order.

“There are some among us who would, if they could, nullify those aspirational ideas to return to the not so halcyon and not so thrilling days of yesteryear of the Divine Right of Kings,” he said, “trading our birthright as a sovereign people for a modern mess of governing pottage in the hands of a few and forfeiting the vision of America as a shining city upon a hill.”

Focusing on the state’s rules that limit absentee voting based on age to those who are 65 or older, the TDP argued that the rule violated the U.S. Constitution by imposing additional burdens on voters who are younger than 65 during the pandemic. Biery agreed, asking, “So what’s the rational basis between 65 and 1 day and one day less than 65?”

The attorney general’s office presented the usual tired argument citing voter fraud, but Biery said the state had provided little or no evidence of widespread fraud in states where voting by mail is more widely used.

“The Court finds the Grim Reaper’s scepter of pandemic disease and death is far more serious than an unsupported fear of voter fraud in this sui generis experience,” Biery said. “Indeed, if vote by mail fraud is real, logic dictates that all voting should be in person.”

You can get the application form for a ballot by mail from the Hays County Elections Office website at https://hayscountytx.com/download/departments/elections/bbm-english-2018.pdf or at https://www.texasdemocrats.org/my-texas-votes-2/vote-by-mail/.
Follow these instructions:
  1. If you previously did not qualify for a ballot by mail but you are concerned about the risk of COVID-19 exposure, check “Disability” in box 5 but do not write anything else in that box. Do not list your disability, COVID-19, coronavirus or anything else; doing so could cause your application to be rejected. Simply check the “Disability” box.
  2. In box 6a, check “Annual Application” so that you will automatically get mail-in ballots for the rest of 2020. You must also check “Democratic Primary” and “Any Resulting Runoff” to vote in the July 14 runoff election.
  3. Be sure to sign your application in box 10.
  4. Mail your application to the Early Voting Clerk at the address on the form.
  5. Applications must be received by the county elections office by July 2 for the primary runoff election or October 23 for the November general election.

UPDATE MAY 20: Federal appeals court temporarily blocks voting-by-mail expansion in Texas. See https://www.texastribune.org/2020/05/20/federal-appeals-court-temporarily-blocks-voting-mail-expansion-texas