Texas attorney general seeks stay of mail-in ballot order limiting ballot drop-off locations to one per county

Southwest

Wolfe City (Texas) police officer Shaun Lucas. Photo provided by Texas Rangers.

AUSTIN, Texas (NewsNation Now) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Saturday filed a request for an emergency stay of a federal judge’s injunction that blocked Gov. Greg Abbott’s order dramatically reducing places where voters could drop off mail ballots during early voting in the November elections.

The motion, filed with the Fifth District U.S. Court of Appeals, contends that U.S. District Judge Robert Pittman lacks jurisdiction and calls the injunction he issued Friday unlawful.

Abbott’s Oct. 1 order allowed only one mail ballot drop-off site per county, no matter its size, which the judge said likely violates the right to vote.

In a statement, Paxton noted that Abbott’s order would improve the security of the ballots.

“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,” added Paxton, who echoed claims made by President Donald Trump.

Texas is one of just five states not allowing widespread mail-in voting this year. Polls show unusually tight races in America’s biggest red state and Democrats could take over the state House of Representatives for the first time in 20 years.

Courts have sided with GOP leaders who say fear of catching COVID-19 doesn’t qualify voters to receive mail-in ballots. To qualify for a mail-in ballot in Texas, voters generally must be 65 years older, out of their county on Election Day or disabled.

Nowhere in Texas lost more drop-off sites than Harris County, which includes Houston and is home to 5 million people. The county — a key battleground in Texas — was forced to close 11 drop-off locations. On Wednesday, the Texas Supreme Court also ruled that Houston elections officials could not send unsolicited mail ballot applications to 2 million registered voters.

The U.S. Postal Service informed Texas in July that, given the state’s current mail ballot request deadline, some ballots may not be delivered to voters by Election Day, and that even if all ballots reached voters on time, there was a “significant risk” that completed ballots postmarked on or near Election Day would not be received by the state’s Nov. 4 deadline.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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