Early voting extension upheld by Texas Supreme Court

State News

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Supreme Court declined a case by the Republican Party of Texas to reverse a proclamation by Gov. Greg Abbott that extended the early voting period.

Gov. Abbott issued the proclamation in July to extend the early voting period six days from Oct. 13-30 due to COVID-19. Early voting was originally scheduled to begin Oct. 19.

“The election is already underway. To disrupt the long-planned election procedures as relators would have the Court do would threaten voter confusion,” Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht said in his opinion.

In a decision announced Wednesday, mandamus relief isn’t available in this case because the proclamation was challenged 10 weeks after it was issued and wasn’t heard in lower courts, Hecht wrote.

“They have not sought relief first in the lower courts that would have allowed a careful, thorough consideration of their arguments regarding the act’s scope and constitutionality,” he said.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Jimmy Blacklock said, “the Court is refusing to use the current crisis as an excuse to bypass the constitutional restrictions on its power.”

Justice John Devine’s dissenting opinion said the decision “does a disservice to the citizens of the State of Texas and the Texas Constitution.”

The high court also ruled the Harris County Clerk could not mail ballots to all eligible voters in the county.

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