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Disability rights activists say they’re worried the confusion may deter at-risk Texans from voting or cause them to needlessly put their health at risk to show up in person at the polls despite being eligible for mail-in voting.
The Texas Democratic Party had challenged the state's age restrictions on voting by mail, arguing they violated the 26th Amendment's protections against voting restrictions that discriminate based on age.
It is unclear how many Texas voters may be affected should delays occur. Texas was among 46 states that received a warning from the United States Postal Service, according to The Washington Post.
Disabled and older voters have encountered the most problems navigating mail-in balloting as they try to avoid going to polling places. In-person voting has been generally smooth so far in the low-turnout runoffs.
As for the voting exemption in his mask order, Abbott says it was designed to make sure Texans do not lose their right to vote "simply because they don't have a mask."
The order Thursday leaves in place Texas' more restrictive regulations for the upcoming July 14 runoff. But the case could return to the high court before November's general election.
The high court declined to immediately reinstate a federal judge's order that would have allowed all Texans to request absentee ballots if they fear catching COVID-19 at crowded polling places.
The Democrats are asking the Supreme Court to let stand a lower court's sweeping ruling that would allow all Texas voters to qualify for mail ballots.
The appellate panel extended a temporary order it had issued earlier halting a federal judge's order expanding voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic.
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