Texas Supreme Court holds a lack of immunity for coronavirus is not a “disability” for purposes of mail-in election ballots
In re State of Texas, 20-0394 (Tex. May 27, 2020)
This is a mail-in ballot case. The great folks at the Texas Municipal League already summarized this case, and I try not to duplicate any summaries they beat me to. Their summary is found here and was issued May 28, 2020.
However, since not everyone may have seen the summary and it affects multiple entities, I’ve included this condensed version.
Essentially, the Texas Attorney General filed the lawsuit directly with the Supreme Court, seeking to prevent clerks and other election officials from allowing mail-in ballots for those fearful of contracting the virus responsible for COVID-19. Under the Texas Election Code, qualified voters are eligible to vote by mail only in five specific circumstances, one being the voter is disabled by statutory definition. The Court emphasized that it takes no side in what is the best policy, as that is for the Legislature. Its job is to interpret the language of the Election Code. Based on the language provided, the Court held “…a voter’s lack of immunity to COVID-19, without more, is not a ‘disability’ as defined by the Election Code. But the State acknowledges that election officials have no responsibility to question or investigate a ballot application that is valid on its face.” As a result, it declined to issue a mandamus against any officials, noting the Court was confident they would comply with the law in good faith, now that the Court has clarified the statutory language.
If you would like to read this opinion, click here. Chief Justice Hecht delivered the opinion of the court. Justices Guzman, Boyd and Bland delivered separate concurring opinions.