We're just months away from the presidential election, and one Texas county announced plans to expand mail-in-ballot voting to people who have coronavirus concerns.
On Wednesday, Travis County announced their plans to open up mail-in-voting, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the move unlawful.
He released this statement:
“I am disappointed that the district court ignored the plain text of the Texas Election Code to allow perfectly healthy voters to take advantage of special protections made available to Texans with actual illness or disabilities. This unlawful expansion of mail-in voting will only serve to undermine the security and integrity of our elections and to facilitate fraud. Mail ballots based on disability are specifically reserved for those who are legitimately ill and cannot vote in-person without needing assistance or jeopardizing their health. Fear of contracting COVID-19 does not amount to a sickness or physical condition as required by state law. My office will continue to defend Texas’s election laws to ensure that our elections are fair and our democratic process is lawfully maintained.”
Meanwhile, people in Waco like resident Michael Mchargue disagree, saying mail-in voting is a safer alternative to going into polling places in person.
"I just don't feel safe going there..you're gonna be in large crowds, you're gonna have to be close to people. There's going to be lots of people there; there always is," says Mchargue.
Mary Duty with the McLennan County Democratic Party says she's been pushing to open mail-in-voting for years.
"To have the ability to know that you can vote and not endanger the lives of you or your loved ones is really really critical. Voting should not be a life or death issue. Being afraid for your health because you have a family to take care of constitutes as a disability according to the courts," says Duty.
Up until now, voting by mail in taxes you must...
- be 65 years or older;
- be disabled;
- be out of the county on election day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance; or
- be confined in jail, but otherwise eligible.
But Trudy Hancock, the Elections Administrator for Brazos County says voting from home comes with security issues, and it could come overwhelm the mail system jeopardizing deadlines.
"The steps that you have to go through to be sure that that ballot qualifies...and that someone else has the last say to whether or not your ballot everything was done correctly sometimes it's not always as it seems." says Hancock.
As of now, Brazos County is following recommendations by the Texas governor and for now, will not open mail in voting.
The Bell county elections administrator also released this statement saying:
"Without guidance from the Secretary of State’s office on the matter of Ballots by Mail we will not make any changes to our current procedures.
If there is a ruling that will affect the entire state of Texas, we will follow what is set forth in that directive once received."
If you do qualify, you can find the application on the secretary of state website: