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Texas judge strikes down ballot drop box limits, but legal fight continues

October 15, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

A Texas judge on Thursday struck down Gov. Greg Abbott's order limiting ballot drop boxes to one per county, injecting more uncertainty into the battle over mail-in voting in the state.

(CNN)A Texas judge on Thursday struck down Gov. Greg Abbott's order limiting ballot drop boxes to one per county, injecting more uncertainty into the battle over mail-in voting in the state.

Judge Tim Sulak, a state judge based in Austin, said Abbott's order "would likely needlessly and unreasonably increase risks of exposure to COVID-19 infections" and "substantially burden potential voters' constitutionally protected rights to vote, as a consequence of increased travel and delays, among other things. " The state lawsuit was brought by liberal-leaning groups in Texas.

Earlier this week, a federal appeals court upheld Abbott's order.

Travis County, which includes the reliably Democratic city of Austin, must limit its four drop-off locations to one.

Elizabeth Lewis, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Clerk's Office, told CNN that because of the ongoing legal wrangling, the county is not currently planning to reopen the 11 drop box locations it closed after Abbott's one-box-per-county order went into effect earlier this month.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton quickly filed a notice of appeal on Thursday, and said the appeal would pause the new ruling.

Abbott and Paxton, both Republicans, have defended Texas' mail-in voting laws, which are among the most restrictive in the country.

The appeals court victory for the governor came after Paxton had filed an emergency motion for a stay pending appeal to a district court order that would have allowed county officials to accept hand delivery of mail-in ballots at any county annex or satellite office.

Early voting began in Texas on Tuesday with lines and hours-long wait times for thousands of voters at some locations.

Wait times exceeded 40 minutes in several locations in the county, including the Rice University football stadium in Houston.

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