✍️ Petition: Should Republicans block Vote-by-Mail?
The Texas Supreme Court on Friday temporarily put on hold an expansion of voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic, according to The Texas Tribune.
The Supreme Court agreed with Attorney General Ken Paxton and decided to block a state appeals court decision that allowed voters who lack immunity to the virus to qualify for absentee ballots by citing a disability.
Paxton asked the Supreme Court to intervene the day after a state appeals court let stand a ruling from a lower court.
The lower court order would have allowed more people to qualify to vote by mail.
The state’s Supreme Court has not weighed the merits of the case, but it has put a hold on the expansion.
“The Legislature has carefully limited who may and may not vote by mail,” Paxton said.
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“The Travis County trial court’s decision to allow everyone to vote by mail is contrary to state law and will be reversed on appeal.”
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa responded, “This is a dark day for our democracy.”
“The Republican Texas Supreme Court is wrong to force the people of Texas to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Hinojosa added. “They would have Texans die, just so they can hold on to power.”
More from Texas Tribune:
It’s the latest in an ongoing legal squabble that in the last three days has resulted in daily changes to who can qualify for a ballot they can fill out at home and mail in.
Federal and state courts are considering legal challenges to the state’s rules for voting by mail as Democrats and voting rights groups ask courts to clarify whether lack of immunity to the coronavirus is a valid reason for people to request absentee ballots. A resolution to that question is gaining more urgency every day as the state approaches the July primary runoff elections.
The appeals court rebuffed Paxton’s efforts to block voters from requesting absentee ballots under those conditions while the case was making its way through the courts.
But the Supreme Court’s Friday decision means that order will remain blocked while the appeal of the case moves forward…
The attorney general has said local officials must follow his reading of existing eligibility requirements. Paxton argues that a fear of contracting the virus while voting in person doesn’t meet the state’s definition of a disability.
The Texas election code defines disability as a “sickness or physical condition” that prevents a voter from appearing in person without the risk of “injuring the voter’s health.”
But Sulak’s ruling is not based on voters’ fear of contracting the virus; instead, he agreed with the individual Texas voters, state Democrats and civic organizations that argued that a lack of immunity to the virus makes voters eligible under the existing disability definition.
🚨 POLL: Have lockdown orders gone too far?
Texas Governor Greg Abbott is planning to reopen restaurants, retail stores, movie theaters, and malls as early as Friday, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to The Texas Tribune.
The reopenings will be under new guidelines outlined by the governor’s task force, the Texas Tribune reports.
Should the state not see any major increases in the number coronavirus-related cases: “Abbott also said a second wave of openings and looser restrictions that will include barbershops, hair salons, bars and gyms could go into effect as early as May 18,” the report adds.
According to the report, the new guidelines for retail stores and malls will include cutting their max capacity to 25 percent for more populated areas.
More rural areas that have fewer than five confirmed cases of the coronavirus can allow “up to 50% of their regular capacity,” the Texas Tribune reports.
Areas that would normally allow people to sit and gather, such as food courts, play areas, and interactive displays or games must remain closed.
Similarly, the governor said restaurants will be allowed to reopen to 25 percent capacity; but, that figure is expanded to 50 percent for more rural areas with less than five confirmed coronavirus cases.
Here’s more, from the Texas Tribune:
Bars are to remain closed, even if they offer food.
Only six people will be allowed at a table and parties will be seated at least 6 feet apart from each other.
Patrons who choose to dine-in at a restaurant should expect a few new practices: disposable menus, condiments served only upon request and in single-use portions (a side of ketchup instead of a ketchup bottle), buffets that aren’t self serve and a hand sanitizing station at the restaurant entrance.
Valet service is also suspended except for cars with placards or plates for disabled parking.
Bravo Texas! https://t.co/cVkDewRqGv
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2020
The same guidelines apply for movie theaters planning to reopen: 25 percent capacity except in more rural or less affected areas.
“Moviegoers who find an open theater will have to stay at least two empty seats apart from each other and there must be an empty row between customers. If you attend a movie with people you live with you can all sit together but must have two empty seats on either side of the group. If you want to watch a movie with someone you don’t live with, you can sit in the same row but still two seats apart,” the Texas Tribune clarifies.
For more information on outdoor sports facilities, churches and places of worship, and museums and libraries, click here: Here’s the rules they have to follow.
Governor Abbott said the coronavirus could leave a lasting impact in the way some businesses change their policies, such as in the case of alcohol-to-go sales.
“Alcohol-to-go sales can continue after May 1,” the governor said in a tweet. “Alcohol-to-go sales can continue after May 1.”
Haha my dude is a legend https://t.co/lQWeTGMQAZ
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) April 29, 2020