Judge Sulak Issues Vote-by-Mail Injunction
Enables mail ballots for all voters to vote by mail
By Michael King,
5:15PM, Fri. Apr. 17, 2020
As anticipated, this afternoon Judge Tim Sulak, presiding over the 201st District Court,*[correction below] issued a temporary injunction enabling vote-by-mail in Travis County and, in principle, all Texas voters under threat of pandemic, at least through July. The state of Texas is expected to appeal.
Citing both the general risk to public health and the pressure of time, Sulak's order denies the state's motion to reject the court's jurisdiction, allows the state law "disability" provision to apply to the risk of COVID-19 infection, requires Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir to "accept and tabulate" all mailed ballots, and blocks the state from issuing any orders that would interfere with acceptance and tabulation of mailed ballots.
Although DeBeauvoir is the named defendant in the Texas Democratic Party lawsuit (Secretary of State Ruth Hughs was removed as a defendant for technical reasons), the order appears to extend to all eligible state voters, via state actors and "all persons or entities of any type whatsoever acting in concert with them or acting on their behalf."
The order would convene a status conference of the parties on July 27 (after the July run-offs and state Senate District 14 election) to review the "continued propriety" of the temporary injunction.
The state of Texas, which officially entered the suit as an "intervenor," is expected to appeal, and Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday released a letter threatening prosecution of any voter who cited the disability standard as a reason to vote by mail, and prosecution of any person or official who counseled voters to do so.
Other parties in the lawsuit as plaintiff-intervenors included certain individual voters wishing to vote by mail, the League of Women Voters, Move Texas Action Fund, and Workers Defense Action Fund.
For more on lawsuit and the injunction, follow the Daily News and next week's Chronicle. For a summary report on Wednesday's hearing, see: "Texas Vote-by-Mail Hearing Concludes," April 15.
*Correction: Although Judge Sulak normally presides over the 353rd state District Court, this hearing in fact took place (remotely) under the auspices of the 201st District Court, via the "wheel" judicial assignments in Travis County District Courts.