CLC Challenges Texas’s Strict Absentee Voting Limitations During COVID-19 Crisis
Expanding voter access during a global pandemic is not a partisan issue
SAN ANTONIO, TX – The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center (CLC) is serving as legal counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and its Texas chapter in a new lawsuit challenging the restrictive eligibility criteria Texas uses to make it exceedingly difficult to request and cast an absentee ballot.
“Expanding voter access during a global pandemic should not be a partisan issue,” said Trevor Potter, president at CLC, and a former Republican Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. Potter served as Campaign General Counsel for John McCain. “The courts should not allow Texas to force voters to choose between their health and exercising their fundamental right to vote. Texas should redirect its energy and make it easier to vote safely instead of threatening its citizens with prosecution simply for wanting to vote from the security of their own homes.”
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released in April found that 72% of all U.S. adults, including 79% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans, supported a requirement for mail-in ballots as a way to protect voters in case of a continued spread of coronavirus later this year.
Most Texans are denied the ability to vote by mail due to the narrow list of excuses allowed, which puts all voters at greater risk of contracting coronavirus at in-person polling locations in its upcoming elections this summer and for the General Election on November 3. The disease has ravaged Texas’s Latino community, making up 42.6% of COVID-19 related deaths statewide.
“Once again, Texas officials are looking for ways to effectively disenfranchise Latinos and people of color by suppressing their right to vote. People should never be forced to make a choice between showing up to the polls and risking their health,” said LULAC President Domingo Garcia. “LULAC will not stand for this blatant oppression of our community’s constitutional right to vote in the middle of a pandemic that has killed more than 1,000 Texans and infected over 40,000. Texas is stronger when more people can participate in our democracy and determine who is fit to govern. I asked our Governor and state officials to support a bipartisan interim law to allow all Texans to be able to vote by mail in the 2020 election.”
Texas officials have threatened criminal prosecution of voters who attempt to cast mail ballots who do not meet specific criteria, including those who would prefer to vote by mail out of fear of contracting or spreading COVID-19 by voting in person.
CLC and LULAC moved to intervene in the federal lawsuit, Texas Democratic Party v. Abbott on May 11.