ACLU joins lawsuit to allow Texans to vote by mail during pandemic

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The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups announced Thursday that they have filed a motion to join a lawsuit fighting to allow Texans to safely vote by mail during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Texas Democrats filed the lawsuit in Travis County District Court last month seeking to temporarily extend the Texas Election Code definition of “disability” to all registered voters. In order to vote by mail in Texas, a registered voter must be 65 years or older, disabled or be out of the country. 

Now, other groups including the ACLU, ACLU of Texas, Worker’s Defense Project, and the Texas Civil Rights Project, are also joining onto the lawsuit.

“States all across the country are making vote by mail available because they know it is a common-sense solution to protect democracy and people’s well-being during this public health crisis,” Sophia Lin Lakin, deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement.

“In failing to issue guidance making clear that all Texans are eligible to vote by mail due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Texas is forcing a false choice between protecting public health and allowing Texans to exercise their right to vote,” Lakin continued. “Vote by mail for all eligible voters allows for both. Texas can and should make this common-sense solution explicit.”

Prior to filing the lawsuit, Texas Democrats said they attempted to work with Republicans on the impending issue. At the time, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said those negotiations with Republicans fell apart because Republicans “had no plan.”

The outbreak has already caused campaigns up and down the ballot to adapt to new social distancing requirements, including the cancelation of rallies and fundraising events. Last month, runoff election dates were pushed back several weeks to July 14, still firmly within the pandemic’s timeframe.

Photo: Jennifer Cappuccio Maher/Digital First Media/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images

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