Elections 2020Texas Supreme Court Sides with Abbott, Limits Mail Ballot Drop-Off Locations to One Site

With the top state court's decision, Harris County is limited to one drop-off location for mail ballots in conjunction with Abbott's order.
October 27, 2020
Counties will be limited to one mail ballot drop-off site after a Supreme Court of Texas (SCOTX) decision sided with Governor Greg Abbott’s restriction via executive order.

Abbott issued the order in response to Harris County Interim Clerk Chris Hollins’ expansion of the drop-off sites to 10. Absentee voters are permitted, rather than mailing in their ballots, to hand-deliver them to elections offices.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) filed the lawsuit in state court alleging the governor was unnecessarily limiting voters’ ability to cast their ballots. An appeals court sided with the ADL on Friday, but the decision was promptly stayed by SCOTX. The state court suit was filed after a similar one faltered in federal court.

Among other points, the SCOTX concurred with the Fifth Circuit in its decision that Abbott’s extension of early voting already lightened the burden on voters sufficiently.

“The Governor’s October Proclamation provides Texas voters more ways to vote in the November 3 election than does the Election Code. It does not disenfranchise anyone. The plaintiffs have not established a probable right to an injunction blocking the October Proclamation,” the opinion reads.

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One key argument made by the ADL was that voters in certain parts of the county were closer to other counties’ drop-off locations than their own.

Further rejecting the petition, the court states, “In Texas’s county-based system of elections, county lines are frequently what determines how convenient voting may be for any given voter. The plaintiffs’ assertion that the Constitution is violated when voters of one county face slightly greater logistical barriers than voters in another county finds no support in the case law and, if taken seriously, this argument would condemn Texas’s county-based election apparatus to interminable litigation over the myriad minor differences between voters’ options in various counties throughout our diverse State.”

It is possible, but highly unlikely, that the United States Supreme Court takes up the federal case. And so, only a week out from Election Day, this ruling is the governing one.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.