Appeals court blocks order that would have expanded vote-by-mail amid pandemic in Texas

A federal appeals court in Texas on Thursday blocked a lower court ruling that would have allowed people to mail in their ballots to avoid being exposed to the coronavirus. Thursday’s ruling by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals stalls a ruling that would have let Texas voters request mail-in ballots based on fear that a lack of immunity to Covid-19 would put them at risk if they voted in person.

District Judge Fred Biery had issued a decision in May that expanded mail-in voting by allowing the state’s “disability” election provision to apply to all registered voters under age 65, who currently have to provide excuses when applying for absentee ballots. Texas’ election code defines “disability” as “a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter’s health.”