The Texas election code defines disability as a “sickness or physical condition” that prevents a voter from appearing in person without the risk of “injuring the voter’s health.” Biery opined that Paxton’s interpretation “rendered the statute unconstitutionally vague” because it left unclear which voters qualify to vote by mail under its provisions.
Biery also found that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their claim that Paxton’s statements on voting by mail amounted to unlawful voter intimidation.
Paxton previously issued guidance to local election officials in which he raised the prospect that “third parties” could face criminal sanctions if they advise voters who typically do not qualify for mail-in ballots to request them under the circumstances allowed by Sulak’s ruling. Paxton has also claimed in public statements that expanding eligibility for absentee voting “will only serve to undermine the security and integrity of our elections.”
“Defendant Paxton’s statements operate to discourage voters from seeking mail-in ballots because of their fear of criminal sanction or victimization by fraud,” Biery wrote, “and have the intention and the effect of depriving legally eligible voters’ access to the franchise.”