AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today issued a letter in response to Representative Stephanie Klick’s request for guidance on whether, under the Texas Election Code, Texans may claim disability based on fears of contracting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and receive a ballot to vote by mail in upcoming elections.
The letter states that disability, as that term is used in the Texas Election Code’s provisions allowing voting by mail, must involve a “sickness or physical condition” that prevents a voter from voting in-person. A voter ill with COVID-19 and who is unlikely to be able to appear in-person to vote without assistance or without injuring their health may apply for a ballot by mail; however, fear of contracting COVID-19 does not qualify a person for disability.
“Mail ballots based on disability are specifically reserved for those who are physically ill and cannot vote in-person as a result. Fear of contracting COVID-19 does not amount to a sickness or physical condition as required by the Legislature,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The integrity of our democratic election process must be maintained, and law established by our Legislature must be followed consistently.”
It is a direct violation of the Texas Election Code to “intentionally cause false information to be provided on an application for ballot by mail,” to knowingly or intentionally cause a ballot to be obtained under false pretenses, or give a misleading statement on an application for ballot by mail.
The Texas Democrats filed a lawsuit in Travis County arguing that anyone with a fear of contracting COVID-19 should be allowed to claim a “disability” and vote by mail. Their request diminishes voting protections the Legislature has made available to Texans with actual illness or disabilities, according to Paxton.
For information on the spread or treatment of Coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit the Texas Department of State Health Services website.