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June 1, 2020
Letter to the Editor

Galveston County Daily News

The Texas Supreme Court decided 9-0 last week that fear of getting COVID-19 is not a disability under the Texas Election Code (TEC) and therefore not a reason for getting an absent ballot.  But that is not stopping the State Party Democrats from pressing their case in the Federal Courts.  They are claiming that allowing people 65 or older to get an absentee ballot is age discrimination and violates the 26th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  A Federal lower court judge in San Antonio agreed with their argument.

Now the TEC 83.001-83.003 only allows voting by mail for three reasons:
if you are out of the county during an election, disabled, or 65 or older. 

If one strikes the latter as being unconstitutional because it is age discrimination then it would follow that nobody could get a mail ballot because of their age.  That would eliminate over 95% of the absentee ballots we handle in Galveston County. 

Do the State Party Democrats really want to disenfranchise about seven thousand elderly voters in our county? The headline in the paper might read “Unintended Consequences; Democrats move to disenfranchise elderly voters!”  They should consider the unintended consequences of their desire to expand voting by mail.

In response to this letter one person said that the Democrats are trying to open absentee voting to people of all ages.  However, the way the Election Code is written, no one is allowed to vote by mail unless they meet one of the three exceptions noted above (TEC 83.001-83.003).  That means if the one based upon age is stricken it only allows for the two other exceptions. *

If this is to change it will require action by the state legislature
Opening absentee voting to all is not in the jurisdiction of the courts or activist judges;  apparently the Texas state Democrats want supplant the legislature and have the judiciary rewrite the law.

Author and Columnist,
Former Chief Deputy Clerk for Elections
Galveston County
Photo of Bill (Sarge) Sargent
June 1, 2020

* One other reason for voting by mail, and which is allowed by Texas law, is for a person who is in jail and not yet convicted to apply for a mail in ballot. In over six years of serving in the Elections Division, I never saw any prisoner make such a request under this provision of the law