Supreme Court rebuffs Texas vote-by-mail expansion

By Jan Wolfe
(Reuters) - The US Supreme Court sided with Republican state officials in Texas on Friday and refused to allow broader postal voting in the state. A lower court ruling has blocked the Democrats' expansion in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The judges passed the verdict of the New Orleans 5th Appeals Court, which ended a federal judge's earlier decision to give any voter who is concerned about the risk of coronavirus infection the opportunity to vote by mail to deliver. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, was fighting the expansion of the mail-in poll.
There were no identified disputes before the Supreme Court, although liberal justice Sonia Sotomayor said in a statement that she hoped the 5th circuit would make a final decision "well before the November election" on the legal reasons for the case.
State law only provides postal ballot papers for Texans aged 65 and over or if a voter meets certain guidelines for the disabled. However, the state's Democratic Party went to court to try to allow all voters in Texas to vote in the mail during this year's election cycle, including the November 3 presidential election, given the health threat posed by the novel corona virus.
The plaintiffs argued that the restrictive state law on mail-in voting violates voting rights, which is set out in the 26th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
District judge Fred Biery ruled that Texas law, by treating voters differently by age, is likely to violate the guarantee of the 26th amendment to the voting rights of citizens over 18 years of age.
Early voting begins on Monday for the party's main outflows on July 14 at Texas political races.
President Donald Trump, who is attempting to be re-elected this year, and other Republicans have attempted to portray mail-in polls as fraudulent, although this practice has been widespread for decades with no evidence of significant problems.
Democrats have accused Republicans of pursuing policies that make it more difficult to cast ballots as part of an extensive voter suppression effort aimed at excluding voters who tend to support democratic candidates.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

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