U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman said Abbott’s order placed an unacceptable burden on the voting rights of elderly and disabled Texans, who are most likely to request a mail-in ballot and to hand-deliver those ballots early to ensure that they are counted.
These voters are also particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, the judge said.
“By limiting ballot return centers to one per county, older and disabled voters living in Texas’s largest and most populous counties must travel further distances to more crowded ballot return centers where they would be at an increased risk of being infected by the coronavirus in order to exercise their right to vote and have it counted,” Pitman wrote.
“By forcing absentee voters to risk infection with a deadly disease to return their ballots in person or disenfranchisement if the (Postal Service) is unable to deliver their ballots in time, the October 1 Order imposes a burden on an already vulnerable voting population,” he said.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office defended Abbott’s order, is likely to appeal the ruling.