Judge prevents Texas from eliminating direct voting due to COVID-19

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A U.S. District Judge in Laredo, Texas on Friday barred Texas from eliminating direct voting in the state nearly a month before the 2020 presidential election, citing coronavirus concerns as one of the main reasons for the decision.

“Forcing Texas voters to stand in longer lines and increase their exposure to a deadly virus weighs on the franchise,” wrote Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo, appointed in 2010 by former President Barack Obama, in his decision.

Stacks of voting envelopes waiting to be mailed. (AP Photo / Gerry Broome, file)

She argued that it might take voters longer to fill out a ballot without a direct vote – which allows voters to choose a party’s full list of candidates with a single voting point – and expand potential exposure to COVID-19 in voting booths. .

Early voting in Texas begins October 13.

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Texas Republicans passed a law banning direct voting in 2017 to encourage voters to choose from a variety of candidates, but one amendment prevented the law from being implemented until Republican Gov. Greg Abbott enacted it in 2020.

Most states do not offer direct voting.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at a press conference where he provided an update on Texas' response to COVID-19, Thursday, September 17, 2020, in Austin, Texas.  (AP Photo / Eric Gay)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at a press conference where he provided an update on Texas’ response to COVID-19, Thursday, September 17, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo / Eric Gay)

Garcia Marmolejo added that restoring direct voting would give Texans “a more efficient opportunity to vote” when “the extra time spent online endangers the safety of voters, polling station officials and others not present. , Especially minorities, as the plaintiffs argued.

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“This is a matter of the utmost importance to the constitutional rights of the citizens of Texas,” she wrote.

Republican State Senator Paul Bettencourt said on Friday tweeter that he expects a “quick reversal” of the decision of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Expect a quick reversal by [the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals] which side w / [Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton] on existing TX electoral law cases in 20 ‘. Did the Fed judge miss 70,000 military ballots in [the] mail already? He tweeted in reference to 70,000 mail-in ballots that were cast in July.

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