Republican Ken Paxton claims allowing more Texas voters to apply for absentee ballots 'increases the risk of voter fraud.'
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday asked the state Supreme Court not to allow applications for absentee ballots from voters who are afraid that in-person voting might lead to their infection with the novel coronavirus.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Paxton, a Republican, said allowing more people to vote safely from their homes during a pandemic "damages the integrity of our elections and increases the risk of voter fraud."
Earlier in the month, Dallas County, among other counties in Texas, had voted to accept fear of the coronavirus as a valid basis for requesting an absentee ballot by voters under the age of 65.
Paxton asked the court to reverse a ruling in a suit brought by the Texas Democratic Party to ensure that mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic could proceed.
According to Paxton, fear of illness is not grounds under Texas law for requesting an absentee ballot.
Texas has a primary runoff election coming up on July 14.
"After a month of thousands of mail-in ballot requests sent by Texans who are under the age of 65, Paxton now wants to upset the election process," Chad Dunn, general counsel for the Texas Democratic Party, said about Paxton's decision in a Wednesday statement.
In a statement, Paxton lied about the relationship between voter fraud and voting by mail, saying, "In-person voting is the surest way to prevent voter fraud and guarantee that every voter is who they claim to be and has a fair opportunity to cast their vote." There is no evidence that absentee voting leads to more voter fraud.
The New York Times' editorial board noted in March that "states that use vote-by-mail have encountered essentially zero fraud: Oregon, the pioneer in this area, has sent out more than 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000, and has documented only about a dozen cases of proven fraud."
Republicans across the country have been pushing to force voters to the polls even in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
In Wisconsin, conservatives in the state legislature and state Supreme Court forced voters to cast ballots in-person in elections in April rather than allow more time to vote by mail, as Democratic Gov. Tony Evers tried to do.
Republicans in Louisiana stopped an effort to allow more absentee voting precisely because it would have made it easier for more people to vote.
Health experts have advised people to stay at home as much as possible to stop the spread of the coronavirus, warning that relaxing safety measures could lead to more infections and more death.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, warned Congress on Tuesday that moving too quickly to lift safety measures "will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal."
As many states have rushed to reopen businesses, much of the country has seen a spike coronavirus infections, according to an analysis by the Associated Press. And a leaked White House memo earlier this month showed a spike in cases in several Midwestern cities.
As of Thursday morning, Texas had more than 43,800 confirmed coronavirus cases, and at least 1,205 people in the state have died. Nationwide, more than 1.3 million have confirmed cases, and at least 84,109 people have died.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.