Federal judge stops Governor Abbott’s order on drop-off ballot boxes in Texas

An Obama-appointed federal judge issued a temporary block on Governor Abbott’s order to remove all but one drop-off ballot box in each county in Texas. This is just the latest in maneuvers by the Democrats in Texas to continue to create chaos during the 2020 presidential election cycle. Early voting for all registered voters begins October 13. For voters using mail-in ballots, those ballots have been sent out and many ballots have already been filled out and returned. Yet, last-minute shenanigans continue.

On October 2 I wrote about Governor Abbott’s order that each county in Texas be limited to one drop-off ballot box. He did this in order to try to eliminate excess opportunities for voter fraud in counties with multiple locations for voters to drop off their mail-in ballots. Texas Democrats who lost their legal battle to turn Texas into a universal mail-in ballot state reacted to the governor’s order by taking their case for keeping the ballot box locations in place to a federal judge. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled in favor of the Democrats, citing that mail-in ballots were already being sent out and it is too close to the election to change up the process.

Austin District Judge Robert Pitman said Abbott’s Oct. 1 proclamation came too late, after officials already started mailing absentee ballots and some, like Harris and Travis counties, had planned for multiple dropoff sites.

In the 46-page order, Pitman cited Supreme Court precedent that says election law should not be changed too near an election to eliminate voter confusion and complications for election officials.

“Even without declaratory evidence, it is apparent that closing ballot return centers at the last minute would cause confusion, especially when those centers were deemed safe, authorized, and, in fact, advertised as a convenient option just months ago,” Pitman wrote.

This means that two Democratically-controlled counties, Harris County (Houston) and Travis County (Austin), can re-open drop off locations. This affects eleven additional locations in Harris County and three in Travis County. Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, the rookie County Clerk who has only been in the position since June, is pleased. He referenced Governor Abbott’s order as proof of voter suppression in Texas. It should be noted that he was hell-bent to send every registered voter in Harris County a mail-in ballot application. This week, after a prolonged legal battle, the Texas Supreme Court ruled against Hollins’ plan. He is not allowed to send out mail-in ballot applications unsolicited by registered voters. There are about 2.4 million registered voters in Harris County.

“The governor’s suppressive tactics should not be tolerated, and tonight’s ruling shows that the law is on the side of Texas voters,” Hollins said. “Seniors and voters with disabilities across Harris County need these drop-off locations to deliver their mail ballots safely and conveniently during the global pandemic. We shouldn’t be playing politics with voters’ lives.”

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said Friday that she was “grateful the court recognized what was best for voters.”

“Travis County elections will do everything possible to make further court rulings easily understood by voters,” DeBeauvoir said.

The Texas Democrat Party is also pushing the voter suppression narrative. If Democrats don’t win elections, it isn’t their fault. It’s voter suppression, you know.

“Governor Abbott’s attempt to suppress Texas voters has been thwarted. Judge Pitman’s common sense order followed well-established law and stopped the governor from making up election rules after the election started. Frankly, it ought to be a shock to all of us that such a ruling is even required.

“This important ruling stands up not just for voters but for the Rule of Law. This isn’t the first time Abbott and Texas Republicans have tried to suppress the vote, and it won’t be the last. The only way to stop these voter suppression attempts is to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot in November.”

This election cycle, Texas is a battleground state. Democrats are pulling out all the stops to turn the state into a blue one, as it was before 1994. Texas has gone for the Republican presidential nominee since 1976. Joe Biden isn’t going to break that streak this year. There are two separate federal lawsuits over Abbott’s executive order to limit drop-off ballot boxes to one per county.

In a complaint filed late Thursday against Abbott’s order, the Campaign Legal Center sued on behalf of the League of United Latin American Citizens, its Texas chapter, the League of Women Voters of Texas, and two individuals, alleging that the last-minute change will cause confusion for voters.

The complaint argues that the governor’s order forces Texas absentee voters — older voters, and voters with disabilities — to risk exposure to Covid-19, travel farther distances, and face longer waits.

I think former Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said it best. Mail-in ballot drop-off boxes are everywhere. Just put the ballot in your own mailbox, if you like, as it is always done. This is all a ridiculous waste of time. Democrats tried to have the whole state vote by mail and now suddenly they can only safely use drop-off boxes? Malarkey.

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