5th Circuit Upholds Texas Order to Limit Mail-in Ballot Drop Off Location

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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37 Responses

  1. Avatar Michael Siegel
    Ignored
    says:

    The 7 biggest counties in Texas have 14 million voters. The seven smallest have a few thousands. They have an equal number of dropoff boxes. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what’s going on here.Report

  2. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    And the California GOP is posting illegal ballot drop off boxes across the state, without the security protocols required to prevent fraud.

    The Republican Party has become an implacable enemy of American democracy.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David
      Ignored
      says:

      Huh, it looks like they are just “ballot harvesting”. That’s legal in California, right? I mean, we saw it during the last election, no?Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels
        Ignored
        says:

        No, they are not ballot harvesting, and yes, what they are doing is clearly illegal.Report

        • Avatar Aaron David
          Ignored
          says:

          Sorry Chip, old boy, looks like ballot harvesting to me, with a soupcon of providing extra ballot drop-offs to boot. And isn’t that what people are complaining about in Texas?

          As far as illegal goes, why would it be legal to go to a persons house to pick up the ballot and drive it to the ballot box what with its picking and choosing of who to help and who to ignore, as we saw in the ’18 election, vs. being able and willing to help all comers as we are seeing here?

          I mean, one looks positively friendly and open to all, regardless of race or gender or union affiliation, while the other looks like a blatant attempt to steal ballots or force people to vote a certain way.

          I mean, we want honest elections, don’t we? This looks a lot more honest than what has gone before, no?Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels
            Ignored
            says:

            If someone doesn’t know what ballot harvesting is, or how it works, or what the rules are, then yeah, maybe?Report

            • Avatar Aaron David
              Ignored
              says:

              Then please, explain! Show us how this is less legal than parts of the ballot harvesting that YOU feel are righteous.

              Seriously; show, don’t tell.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I would think you would have done some homework before making an assertion, but this is the internet I guess.

                Under state law, only counties [not political parties] have the legal authority to set up drop boxes for ballots.

                If a third party is charged with delivering a ballot on behalf of someone else, the voter has to know who that person is and BOTH [the voter AND the designee] have to sign the ballot envelope to establish a paper trail.

                Describing an unofficial ballot box as “official” may constitute impersonating an elections officer, which is a felony.

                But other than being completely different they are the same thing.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                “In a news release, the California Republican Party said state law does not specifically ban them from collecting ballots in a box. They say the law only prevents tampering or forging ballots and that people collecting the ballots cannot be paid for doing it.

                “It appears Republicans are well within their right to collect ballots in this manner. It’s just that Democrats don’t like it,” Republican state Sen. Melissa Melendez posted to her official Twitter account.”
                https://apnews.com/article/los-angeles-fresno-elections-california-santa-ana-be803bfe99f5eb35e17a6ee56315deb0

                So, what law, specifically, are they violating?Report

              • Avatar Phil;ip H
                Ignored
                says:

                the drop boxes are in violation of California Elections Code Section 3025 which specifies that vote-by-mail ballot drop boxes are “secure receptacles” established by local elections officials and the boxes must adhere to state regulations for security.

                “Use of these ballot drop boxes calls into question compliance with CA Elections Code 3017 and 3011, which allows voters to designate an individual to return their ballot. Any individual returning a ballot on behalf of a voter must provide their name, signature, and relation to the voter on the return envelope. Voters must know who specifically is returning their ballot.” said Sec. Padilla’s Office.

                https://www.yourcentralvalley.com/news/top-stories/california-gop-accused-of-breaking-state-law-for-operating-unofficial-ballot-drop-boxes-in-fresno-los-angeles-and-orange-counties/Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                California Elections Law Sections 3011, 3016, and 3017.
                https://files.constantcontact.com/c1d64240601/cf61386b-2497-47a3-8556-b5dba186f486.pdf

                Section 3011:
                The identification envelope shall contain all of the following:

                (1) A declaration, under penalty of perjury, stating that the voter resides within the precinct in which he or she is voting and is the person whose name appears on the envelope.

                (2) The signature of the voter.

                (3) The residence address of the voter as shown on the affidavit of registration.

                (4) The date of signing.

                (5) A notice that the envelope contains an official ballot and is to be opened only by the canvassing board.

                (6) A warning plainly stamped or printed on it that voting twice constitutes a crime.

                (7) A warning plainly stamped or printed on it that the voter must sign the envelope in his or her own handwriting in order for the ballot to be counted.

                (8) A statement that the voter has neither applied, nor intends to apply, for a vote by mail voter’s ballot from any other jurisdiction for the same election.

                (9) The name of the person authorized by the voter to return the vote by mail ballot pursuant to Section 3017 .

                (10) The relationship to the voter of the person authorized to return the vote by mail ballot.

                (11) The signature of the person authorized to return the vote by mail ballot.

                By having an unmanned drop off box, they are missing items 9,10 and 11.

                I mean, this isn’t even ambiguous.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                9-10-11 don’t seem to have a need to be done by either the person who’s ballot it is, nor at the time of drop off. So they write those things in when they pick up the ballots.

                Seems perfectly legal to me. And much fairer than going through voter poles to see who can be intimidated into voting by the picker-upper.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                If you don’t consider what the word “authorize” means.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                Who authorizes whom? Is that written down? I don’t see a reference to it in what you have cited.
                Could it be the person who was asked to go pick up that ballot box?

                Could it be a party flunky in her first post-college job?

                It doesn’t seem to say. What works in the “normal” ballot harvesting? Who authorizes those people?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Who authorizes whom?
                The voter;
                Is that written down?
                Yes, in item 9;
                Could it be the person who was asked to go pick up the ballot box?
                Not unless that person’s name is on the outside of the identification envelope.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                It doesn’t say that the voter has to sign that part, and by dropping the ballot in the box it signifies that the voter is cool with whoever picks them up, only that this person needs to write down their name.

                I mean, seriously, that is a gap wide enough to drive a truck through.

                But, maybe we should just end the idiocy of this whole thing and go back to voting in person, at election sites. By people who are registered.

                Zero harvesting, period.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                The strongest argument for the felony conviction of the senior GOP officials, is your defense of them.

                I encourage them to use this defense in court.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                Chip, I just showed how the law doesn’t disqualify what is going on.

                I know you have a hateon for the GOP, but please, if you are going to use something as shady as ballot harvesting, expect the other team to show why it is despicable. Also, if CA writes laws that poorly, then they are the ones who f’ed up.Report

              • Avatar Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m sure that Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah, and Hawaii would disagree with you on the efficacy of REQUIRING people to vote in person in polling places. But I suppose 10% of our states could get it wrong . . . .Report

              • Avatar George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                Colorado has tons of counties with more registered voters than adult citizens. That sounds a bit suspicious.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        The GOP is calling it ballot harvesting. The AG has told them it is illegal. I guess we need a court to decide.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      Regarding the California GOP boxes, is the assumed intent to gather fraudulent votes on behalf of GOP candidates? Or to invalidate potential Democratic voters’ ballots because they are not being submitted properly? Or both?Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels
        Ignored
        says:

        Given that literally anyone can go and pick up these boxes and do whatever they want with them without anyone knowing, I think the real intent is to make the entire process of remote boxes illegitimate.

        Republican hostility to democracy exhibit number eleventy.

        For anyone not familiar, the intent of the law was to make it possible for county election officials to set up remote drop off boxes, which would be handled solely by election officials.

        Also, there is a process by which a voter who for whatever reason can’t make it to the polls or a box, can authorize a third party to drop it off for them. The chain of custody of the ballot is assured by having both the voter and third party sign their names to the outside envelope.

        The Republicans couldn’t persuade Californians to vote for them, and further, they couldn’t find any election fraud, so they decided to do some of their own to cast the entire process into disrepute.Report

        • Avatar George Turner
          Ignored
          says:

          Oh yeah, that right there is an airtight chain of custody. *rolls eyes*

          Do you wonder if the drop off boxes in the really blue neighborhoods are being picked up by Republicans to use as a cheap form of heating for their hunting cabins? I would wonder that. It makes more sense than burning California’s ever dwindling supply of firewood.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq
    Ignored
    says:

    Rightists are dedicated to making voting hard because it is an easy way to move votes in their favor and engage in easy voter suppression that doesn’t look too bad if you squint hard enough.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David
      Ignored
      says:

      “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that his Election Fraud Unit assisted the Denton County Sheriff’s Office in arresting Zul Mirza Mohamed, a candidate in the City of Carrollton mayoral race, on 84 counts of mail ballot application fraud and 25 counts of unlawful possession of an official mail ballot. If convicted, Mohamed faces up to 20 years in prison for these offenses.
      https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/news/releases/ag-paxton-carrollton-mayoral-candidate-arrested-mail-ballot-fraud

      And leftists are dedicated to ensuring every non-existent person votes because if you squint hard enough, it doesn’t look that bad.Report

      • Avatar J_A
        Ignored
        says:

        And leftists are dedicated to ensuring every non-existent person votes because if you squint hard enough, it doesn’t look that bad.

        Do I have to remind you that you are the one that repeated in this blog the false allegation from the Texas Secretary of State that 90,000 people (which included me, myself, I) had voted illegally in Texas, since our SSN was issued when we were not yet citizens.

        An allegation which of course crumbled in 24 hours. but you didn’t bother to look, because, of course, 90,000 illegal votes in Texas sounds like very normal to youReport

        • Avatar Aaron David
          Ignored
          says:

          Yes, please remind everyone that there was a claim made, we looked at it, and you showed how it was found wanting. No one, especially me, has disputed that.

          But here is a person who is looking at actual prison time for criminal acts. And this one has the Texas state AG involved, as I am citing his website. Now, do you think this one is a bad claim? If so, please refute it.Report

  4. Avatar J_A
    Ignored
    says:

    I honestly would like to understand the professed rationality of Gov. Abbott’s order.

    In other words, how does he explain one ballot box for a 4 million people county to someone who would not accept “we don’t want those Dems in blue cities to vote at all”. There has to be some sort of “explanation” why two boxes would be bad but one every 4 million people (or fraction thereof) is OK, but I’ve never heard itReport

    • Avatar Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      I think anyone in Texas can use the mail. Not sure, though. Please someone confirm.Report

      • Avatar Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        nope.

        To qualify for mail-in ballots in Texas, registered voters must cite a disability or illness, be 65 years or older, or be confined in jail but still eligible to vote. Additionally, voters can request ballots if they won’t be in the county where they’re registered during the early voting period or on Election Day.

        The story does go on to say that persons receiving mail-in ballots used to only be able to turn them in in person on election day if they didn’t mail them; apparently the current order extend that window out while ramping down the number of locations. Where this gets interesting, and the 2.4 millions number comes into play – is that Harris County (i.e Houston) – was planning to send mail in ballots to all its registered voters (I.e. 2.4 Million people).

        https://www.texastribune.org/2020/10/08/texas-voting-laws-coronavirus-pandemic/Report

  5. Avatar J_A
    Ignored
    says:

    They planned, but didn’t, and doing it is likely illegal

    BTW, TX law will only authorize you a mail-in ballot if you are going to be out of the county but in the USA on election day. I tried to ask for one in 2016 because I was going to be in the UK, and nope, that doesn’t count. You must include a valid USA address where you will be on election day.

    Don’t fret, I changed my flight and landed Monday eve. I voted.Report

  6. Avatar George Turner
    Ignored
    says:

    I would favor getting rid of the drop-off voting concept because it’s a recipe for fraud, or at least the version with “drop off boxes” is. How many ballots can I drop off, one, or a thousand? How many times a day can I drop off a ballot? Is it okay if I drop off an incendiary ballot that sets all the other ballots on fire? Can I just throw the drop-off bin in the back of my van and drive off with it?Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    Judge Ho is one of the bigger Trump ideologues/trolls/firebrands on the court. In other news, the Democrats seem to be doing very well in Georgia: https://poll.qu.edu/georgia/release-detail?ReleaseID=3679

    Quinnipiac Home

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    October 14, 2020 – Biden Is Ahead In Georgia, But It Is Too Close To Call In Ohio, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Democrats Lead In Both Georgia Senate Races Quinnipiac University Polling Logo
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    GEORGIA: Biden 51%, Trump 44%

    OHIO: Biden 48%, Trump 47%

    GEORGIA SENATE: Ossoff 51%, Perdue 45%

    GEORGIA SENATE: Warnock 41%, Collins 22%, Loeffler 20%

    A friend in Atlanta reported waiting 4 hours to vote on Monday. Ohio is close but early voting lines are also apparently out the doors.Report

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