Judge Robert Pitman agreed, writing, “By limiting ballot return centers to one per county, older and disabled voters living in Texas’s largest and most populous counties must travel further distances to more crowded ballot return centers where they would be at an increased risk of being infected by the coronavirus in order to exercise their right to vote and have it counted.”
Texas Democrats cheered the judge’s order, calling it “common sense.”
“Frankly, it ought to be a shock to all of us that such a ruling is even required,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement.
Ahead of the start of early voting in Texas on October 13, the directive had required large counties, regardless of population and area, to limit their number of drop-off locations for mail-in ballots to one. Abbott, a Republican, had argued the directive was necessary to ensure the drop boxes remained secure. But the judge said the risk of disenfranchising voters outweighed those concerns.
The judge was also troubled by Abbott’s late change of policy and felt he needed to rule immediately.
“The public interest is not served by Texas’s continued enforcement of a proclamation Plaintiffs have shown likely violates their fundamental right to vote,” Pitman wrote.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.