Court of Appeals blocks Texas mail-in voting expansion

WEST TEXAS (KOSA) -- A Federal Court of Appeals has blocked a judge’s ruling that would allow all Texans to vote by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the appeal.

“We can’t just have judges re-writing law,” Paxton told CBS7. “That’s not how the constitution works. It’s not my job. It’s not the governor’s job. It’s not this judge’s job. This is about following what the legislature put in place.”

The judge that Paxton is referring to is U.S. District Judge Fred Biery in San Antonio. On Tuesday, he ruled that all voters in the state qualify for mail-in voting.

Biery agreed with the Texas Democratic Party that holding traditional elections during the pandemic would impose burdens on voters and their safety.

“If people feel unsafe to go to a polling place, then they should file to get a ballot by mail,” Cathy Broadrick, Chair for the Midland County Democratic Party, said.

Normally, Texas mail-in voting is reserved for people 65 years or older, people with an illness or disability, or some other circumstance physically keeping them from a polling place.

“We are defending state law,” Paxton said. “This judge basically re-wrote the law, and now the rule is swallowed up by the exception, which is anybody that has a fear of any disease can now vote by mail.”

Paxton was also concerned that expanding mail-in voting to everyone would lead to an increase in voter fraud.

“Given the fraud that we prosecute, 2/3 of it is mail-in ballot,” Paxton said. “If the legislature wants to take that risk, well then they can change the law.”

“I don’t think voter fraud is a big problem in this country,” Broadrick said. “I don’t think it’s a problem in Texas. I don’t think it’s a problem in this county. People aren’t going to go and endanger their freedom by voting when they’re not eligible.”

During this stay, or hold, on the judge’s ruling, the Court of Appeals will decide whether or not to throw it out entirely.