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5th Circuit Upholds Texas Policy of Limiting Ballot Drop Boxes to One Per County

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 05: An official mail-in ballot drop box is posted outside of a library ahead of Election Day on October 5, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Early voting has begun in California with Los Angeles County posting 400 secure vote-by-mail drop boxes across the county. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
By Laura Temme, Esq. on October 15, 2020 | Last updated on August 10, 2021

Earlier this week, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a policy from the Texas Governor's Office limiting the number of places residents can drop off their ballots for the 2020 Election.

Governor Greg Abbott issued the order limiting counties to one ballot drop-off site each at the beginning of the month. "These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency," he said in a statement accompanying the proclamation, "and will help stop attempts at illegal voting."

Despite much of this type of hand-wringing from certain politicians, no evidence has been produced to support claims that ballot drop boxes or mail-in voting are subject to widespread fraud.

Panel Finds Longer Voting Window Enough

On October 9, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman of Texas' Western District blocked the restriction, finding it likely violates the plaintiffs' right to vote. But, on appeal, the 5th Circuit panel held a voter who wishes to hand-deliver their ballot this year has plenty of time to do so.

Under what the court calls the state's "COVID" voting rules, absentee ballots can be hand-delivered on Election Day or during the early voting period. Compared to an average year where absentee ballots can only be dropped off on Election Day, voters do have an extra forty days to hand in their ballot. The panel found that this longer window and the option to place absentee ballots in the mail left Texas voters with enough options to effectively cast their votes.

Meanwhile, Californians are seeing ballot drop boxes everywhere they go, although some may not be so official.

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