The ACLU of Texas, ACLU Voting Rights Project, and Texas Civil Rights Project joined a lawsuit seeking to declare that, under Texas law, all registered voters qualify to request a mail-in ballot as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis.
The lawsuit argues that due to the COVID-19 pandemic individuals cannot physically appear at a polling place on Election Day without a risk to their health. It also states that in order to prevent disenfranchisement during this public health crisis, the court should declare that the Texas Election Code's definition of “disability” in the vote-by-mail provision — one of the reasons for eligibility to vote-by-mail in Texas — currently encompasses all registered voters.
The plaintiffs in this filing include the League of Women Voters of Texas, MOVE Texas, League of Women Voters of Austin Area, Workers Defense Action Fund, and University of Texas student Zach Price.
To learn more about your ability to vote by mail, contact your local county elections administrator.
Update 4/15/20: After a hearing in which the court heard testimony concerning COVID-19 and arguments from both sides, the court sided with plaintiffs and granted a temporary order ruling that all Texans may vote by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the July elections. The court scheduled another hearing later in the summer to determine what happens after the July elections. The state has appealed the district court ruling, and the appeal is ongoing.
Update 6/15/20: Following a victory in trial court, the State of Texas filed a separate lawsuit in the Texas Supreme Court seeking a declaration that lack of immunity to COVID-19 on its own does not qualify an individual to vote by mail. The Texas Supreme Court agreed, stating that “a voter can take into consideration aspects of his health and his health history that are physical conditions in deciding whether, under the circumstances, to apply to vote by mail because of disability.” After the Texas Supreme Court decision, we have moved to dismiss our lawsuit.