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Federal Judge Rules Texas Counties Can Have Multiple Absentee Ballot Drop-off Locations

AUSTIN, TX—Late Friday, a federal judge granted an injunction blocking Governor Greg Abbott’s order limiting Texas absentee ballot drop-off locations to one per county. The League of Women Voters of Texas, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), LULAC Texas, and two individual voters filed the lawsuit, with representation from Campaign Legal Center (CLC), against Texas Governor Greg Abbott following his order. 

“This is a win for the people of Texas and especially the vulnerable voters in Harris County—our seniors, our friends and family with disabilities or compromised health conditions,” said Grace Chimene, president of the League of Women Voters of Texas. “Our mission is to empower voters and defend democracy. We encourage all eligible Texans to have the confidence and information they need to cast their ballots safely.” 

“We are pleased that the court recognized the undue burden that the governor’s order placed on absentee voters in Texas,” said Celina Stewart, chief counsel and senior director of advocacy and litigation for the League of Women Voters of the United States. “Adequately placed ballot drop-off locations are a commonsense option that ensures voters can cast their ballots in a safe, reliable way. As voters are understandably nervous about mailing their ballots this year, drop-off locations give them confidence that their ballots will arrive on time to be counted.” 

The governor’s order disproportionately targeted Black and Latinx communities due to their concentration in the state’s most populous metro areas of Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas-Fort Worth. Elderly, sick, and disabled voters—the only categories of persons eligible to vote absentee in Texas—cannot risk deadly exposure to COVID-19 and must rely on mail or drop off options to cast their ballot this year. Drop-off locations where voters can hand deliver their ballots present a safe, reliable, and accessible option for these voters. 

“LULAC today has prevailed on behalf of 5.6 million Hispanic voters and every other person who should have the lawful right to drop off their mail-in ballot with no unreasonable barriers created to discourage them from voting,” says Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President. “Governor Greg Abbott is trying to prey on the fear of the pandemic, which will keep Hispanics from wanting to risk their lives by going to the polls in person. Instead, they and many other qualified, legal voters prefer to safeguard their well-being by dropping off their ballot at authorized locations near them and today’s injunction guarantees they will be able to do so.”  

“LULAC applauds Judge Pittman for his courage in confronting a blatant act of discrimination,” says Rudy Rosales, State Director for Texas LULAC. “We will continue to be vigilant during this election to ensure that Hispanic voters are not disenfranchised in any way. Our community will vote like never before and that is at the very core of our mission which we will defend vigorously.” 

“The court was right to side with voters,” said Paul Smith, vice president at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “The state of Texas has gone to extraordinary lengths to make it harder for its citizens to vote, and deserved the reprimand given to it by a federal court. Rather than forcing Texans to risk their safety to vote, the state should be giving voters a variety of options to exercise their right.” 

The state is expected to appeal the decision. Voters are encouraged to visit their county elections website to learn about their drop-off options. Texas voters who meet absentee ballot criteria may request a ballot until October 23. Voted ballots must be received by 7pm on Election Day in order to be counted. Voters are encouraged to visit VOTE411.org for more details. 

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PRESS CONTACT: Kayla Vix | 202-809-9668 | [email protected]