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Supreme Court Delivers Ruling on Vote-By-Mail Restrictions in Texas

The U.S. Supreme Court on April 22 declined to consider a case challenging Texas’ age-based restrictions on voting by mail. Under state law, most Texans must vote in person, unless they are at least 65 years old or can provide a valid reason why they must vote by mail, such as a disability or illness.

In Texas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee, older voters can ask for an absentee ballot for any reason. In other states, older voters can only do this in certain situations.

Just as it rejected a similar challenge to Indiana’s voting laws in 2021, the court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from three Texas voters. Additionally, it twice declined to hear earlier versions of the Texas lawsuit that the Texas Democratic Party had filed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The challengers argued that the 26th Amendment forbids age-based discrimination, which is what the unequal treatment of voters amounts to, USA Today reported.

Ratified in 1971 to lower the voting age to 18, the amendment says the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged … on account of age.”

“Whatever voting rights a state grants to people aged 65-and-over, it must also grant to people under 65,” the Texas voters told the Supreme Court in their unsuccessful appeal.

They wanted the court to reverse an appeals court’s decision that Texas’ rules are legal since making it easier for some people to vote doesn’t make it harder for others.

Also, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said that the right to vote did not include the right to vote by mail when the 26th Amendment was made law.

Most states either mail ballots to all voters or let any resident ask for an absentee ballot.

Yet, Texas said it has taken a different approach to safeguarding the integrity of voting, while also acknowledging that older voters may have limited mobility or other issues that make it more difficult for them to vote in person.

Anyone could ask for a mail-in ballot, but the state said that would make voter fraud more likely.

The 2022 midterm elections saw about one-third of voters send in their ballots.

The voters who challenged Texas’ voting rules cited numerous barriers young voters face when trying to vote in person, including lack of transportation, long lines, difficulty finding or accessing polling places, and limited time off from work.

Mail-in voting has been a major topic going into November’s presidential election, with several key rulings coming down in courts across the country.

The U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals recently made a decision that could have an impact on the swing state of Pennsylvania.

The court overturned the order of a federal district court and ruled in favor of the Republican National Committee (RNC) regarding signature verification for mail-in voting in the “crucial” state of Pennsylvania.

According to NPR, the case revolved around whether mail-in ballots that were mailed on time but either had an incorrect date or no date at all under the voter’s signature should be counted.

Democrats contended that the Materiality Provision outlined in Section (a)(2)(B) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is applicable in this scenario, thereby asserting that the ballots should be counted.

The Materiality Provision prohibits denial of the right to vote because of an “error or omission” on paperwork “related to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting,” if the mistake is “not material in determining whether [an] individual is qualified” to vote.

The RNC responded by arguing that enforcement of the date requirement for a ballot “does not impinge on the right to vote” because the Materiality Provision “only prohibits immaterial requirements affecting the qualification and registration of a voter,” not other, more specific requirements for casting a ballot, The Daily Wire reported.

RNC Chairman Michael Whatley responded to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling: “This is a crucial victory for election integrity and voter confidence in the Keystone State and nationwide.

Pennsylvanians deserve to feel confident in the security of their mail ballots, and this 3rd Circuit ruling roundly rejects unlawful left-wing attempts to count undated or incorrectly dated mail ballots. Republicans will continue to fight and win for election integrity in courts across the country ahead of the 2024 election.”

The RNC statement added: “In November 2022, the RNC, NRCC, and PAGOP secured a victory on this issue in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

A federal district court then struck down the dated signature  requirement in November 2023. We appealed, and now the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed with the RNC’s argument.

“This was a 2-1 ruling handed down by 3 Democrat-appointed judges. This ruling will have far-reaching effects regarding left-wing attempts to weaponize the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act across the country and represents a victory for mail ballot safeguards in a crucial swing state,” it added.

The party has launched 81 voter integrity lawsuits and legal actions during the current election cycle alone, the statement said, “with more to come.”

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