Texas judge strikes down ballot drop box limits, but legal fight continues
Posted October 15, 2020 6:56 p.m. EDT
CNN — A Texas judge on Thursday struck down Gov. Greg Abbott's order limiting ballot drop boxes to one per county, injecting more uncertainty into the battle over mail-in voting in the state.
Judge Tim Sulak, a state judge based in Austin, said Abbott's order "would likely needlessly and unreasonably increase risks of exposure to COVID-19 infections" and "substantially burden potential voters' constitutionally protected rights to vote, as a consequence of increased travel and delays, among other things." The state lawsuit was brought by liberal-leaning groups in Texas.
The impact of the ruling is unclear. Earlier this week, a federal appeals court upheld Abbott's order. The state court ruling on Thursday is a separate case focused on state law.
Elizabeth Lewis, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Clerk's Office, told CNN that because of the ongoing legal wrangling, the county is not currently planning to reopen the 11 drop box locations it closed after Abbott's one-box-per-county order went into effect earlier this month. The office will continue to focus on the sole location at NRG Stadium in Houston, Lewis said.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton quickly filed a notice of appeal on Thursday, and said the appeal would pause the new ruling. Abbott and Paxton, both Republicans, have defended Texas' mail-in voting laws, which are among the most restrictive in the country.