The president and the GOP had a big win in Texas on Wednesday, as the State Supreme Court ruled that the coronavirus is not a sufficient reason to limit in-person voting at polling places thus allowing mail-in voting to become the new standard.
The all-Republican court sided with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton had filed a petition to compel local officials to follow state laws regarding mail-in ballots. Those laws require a specific disability to allow a person to vote by mail. Paxton filed after a state Court of Appeals ruled to allow anyone in Travis County to request a mail-in ballot.
The president was happy about the ruling: “Big win in Texas on the dangerous Mail In Voting Scam!” the president wrote in a tweet.
Texas Supreme Court: Lack of immunity to COVID-19 alone not enough to vote by mail https://t.co/rAZVRF4nkj Big win in Texas on the dangerous Mail In Voting Scam!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020
“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 said voters must themselves decide if they meet the definition of “disability” and “election officials have no responsibility to question or investigate a ballot application that is valid on its face.”
“The question before us is not whether voting by mail is better policy or worse, but what the Legislature has enacted. It is purely a question of law,” the ruling said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “Our authority and responsibility are to interpret the statutory text and give effect to the Legislature’s intent.” What a refreshing opinion from the bench. Ah, Texas.
In a statement, Paxton said he agreed with the court “for ruling that certain election officials’ definition of ‘disability’ does not trump that of the Legislature, which has determined that widespread mail-in balloting carries unacceptable risks of corruption and fraud… Election officials have a duty to reject mail-in ballot applications from voters who are not entitled to vote by mail. In-person voting is the surest way to maintain the integrity of our elections, prevent voter fraud and guarantee that every voter is who they claim to be.”
This ruling has national implications. Democrats all over America, especially in California where Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law the very same type of measure struck down in Texas, are trying to shoehorn mail-in voting into the new norm because it is much easier to tamper with or substitute a mail-in ballot than it is to manipulate other types of voting systems.
As mail-in ballots, as opposed to the data from a voting machine, are in physical form they can be intentionally lost, arrive late, or never arrive at all. If “ballot harvesting” is at play, the process of delivering fake ballots after the polls are closed, newly found votes miraculously give Democrats a margin of victory. The courts know this and they struck mail-in voting down in Texas to forestall such hijinks. This is a particularly hard blow to national Democrats, as flipping Texas blue is their main national strategic goal. If Texas did go Democrat, because of the importance of its electoral college number to the GOP national total, it is unlikely Republicans could take the White House for the foreseeable future.
This case will likely reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Democrats will push the high court to review it this year, hoping against hope the conservative-leaning Supremes will give them a present in the fall. The more likely scenario is the court letting a lower court ruling stand, declining to hear the case, or waiting until next year to take it up.