One day after a federal judge ruled all registered voters were eligible to vote by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily stayed that order on hold pending appeal. It is an administrative stay and not based on the merits of the case.

Meanwhile, the Texas Supreme Court held a virtual hearing today (Wednesday) on its stay of an appellate court decision that would have expanded eligibility for absentee voting. During the hearing, justices probed attorneys representing the state about who gets to decide if a voter is actually disabled.

The current application form (PDF) contains a check box beside each of four reasons for voting by mail: 65 years of age or older, disability, expected absence from the county and jail confinement. The form does not require a voter to state the nature of the disability, and the county is required to send them a ballot if the form is filled out correctly. State law does not authorize election officials to verify disability claims (or, for that matter, that the voter expects to be out of the county).

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