WASHINGTON — The Texas Supreme Court has blocked an effort by Democrats in the state to expand voting by mail, ruling that lack of immunity to COVID-19 does not qualify a person to apply for a mail-in ballot.
"We agree with the State that a voter's lack of immunity to COVID-19, without more, is not a 'disability' as defined by the Election Code," the court, made up of Republicans, said in a ruling Wednesday.
Texas law says that a qualified voter is eligible to vote by mail if the voter has a physical condition or sickness that prevents the voter from going to their polling place on Election Day.
"We agree with the State that a lack of immunity to COVID-19 is not itself a 'physical condition' that renders a voter eligible to vote by mail,” Chief Justice Nathan Hecht wrote.
As the coronavirus began to spread throughout the U.S. in early March, the Texas Democratic Party, its chairman and two voters sued the Texas secretary of state and the Travis County Clerk in district court, asking that the court declare that any voter who believes social distancing is essential to limiting the spread of COVID-19 should be able to obtain a mail-in ballot.
President Donald Trump, who has been railing against mail-in voting, celebrated the court's ruling on Twitter Wednesday night by tweeting a link to a story about the decision, writing, "Big win in Texas on the dangerous Mail In Voting Scam!"
This comes as Democrats have been pushing a national vote-by-mail campaign for the rest of the election year especially since health experts have warned that it would be by the end of the year at the earliest before the U.S. has a coronavirus vaccine available to the public.
Trump, for his part, has been adamantly opposing vote-by-mail efforts even though he voted himself by absentee ballot earlier this year. He has trashed the practice, saying that "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again" and claiming that it leads to voter fraud. There have been few documented cases of voter fraud, however, in the U.S. through voting by mail.