The Texas Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit today (Tuesday) seeking increased access to ballot-by-mail voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The party filed a similar lawsuit in state court on March 20. A hearing in state district court is scheduled for April 15.

Section 82.002, Election Code provides that a voter is eligible for ballot-by-mail voting “if the voter has a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood … of injuring the voter’s health.” The question becomes whether people’s lack of immunity to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 qualifies as a “physical condition” that prevents a voter from appearing in person creates a “likelihood … of injuring the voter’s health.” To date, no guidance from the Secretary of State has specifically answered that question. An advisory issued on Friday indicated voters may seek to use the pandemic as justification for requesting to vote by mail.

The League of Women Voters and other voting rights groups joined the state lawsuit as intervenors late last week.

“Voters desperately need the court to provide legal clarity that our state law permits all registered voters to vote by mail in light of this global pandemic,” said Grace Chimene, president of the League of Women Voters of Texas. “We are in unprecedented times, and the need to balance public safety with administrative efficiency cannot be underestimated. Counties need to begin processing applications now.”

Local Elections: Most local elections scheduled for May 2 have been postponed to November 3 or canceled because all candidates were unopposed. See our Municipal Elections page for details.

Wisconsin: The state held its primary elections today (Tuesday), becoming the only state with a primary election scheduled for April that was not postponed. Lines were several blocks long at the five polling stations in Milwaukee, while other polling places in less populated areas were largely deserted. National Guard members were deployed across the state to assist election workers. Results will not be announced until Monday.

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