- The Washington Times - Monday, October 19, 2020

A federal appeals court ruled in favor of the Texas government Monday, saying mail-in ballots are more prone to voter fraud and blocking a lower court decision that could have upended the state’s signature-match requirement for those ballots.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that under Texas law, in-person voting is the norm and voting by mail is the exception, reserved for special cases such as the elderly and disabled.

And requiring those ballots to be accompanied by a valid signature is not an undue burden, given the state’s interest in preventing voter fraud, the court ruled.

“Texas’s signature-verification requirement is not designed to stymie voter fraud only in the abstract. It seeks to stop voter fraud where the problem is most acute — in the context of mail-in voting,” wrote Judge Jerry E. Smith, a Reagan appointee.

He cited precedent that found the “potential and reality of fraud is much greater” when mail ballots are used.

The ruling stayed the decision by District Judge Orlando L. Garcia, a Clinton appointee, who had issued an order last month imposing a series of new conditions on Texas’s signature match system.

In particular, he ordered the state to rush notifications to voters when their signatures didn’t match, cutting short the amount of time allowed under state law.

Those “sweeping” changes so close to an election were too far, the appeals court ruled.

The League of Women Voters called the decision “deeply disappointing,” and said while it allows local election officials up to 10 days after the election to notify voters their ballots weren’t valid, they can act quicker if they choose.

“Every voter deserves to be able to cast their ballot with confidence, and Texas election officials are making every effort to deny Texas voters of that right,” said the league’s chief counsel, Celina Stewart.

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