WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, July 22, a federal judge dismissed a Texas lawsuit brought by the Texas Democratic Party and Texas voters alleging that the state’s age limitations on mail-in voting violate the 14th and 26th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the plaintiffs challenge portions of the Texas Election Code that only allow no-excuse mail-in voting for voters who are 65 or older (those who have a qualifying excuse such as sickness or disability can also vote by mail). In addition, the plaintiffs claimed that the state’s mail-in voting limitations disproportionately harm minority voters and result in racial discrimination in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The lawsuit, brought by the Texas Democratic Party amidst the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, argued that the state’s limitations on mail-in voting should be nullified and all registered voters should be able to vote by mail without an excuse and regardless of their age. In May 2020, the district court blocked Texas from threatening criminal prosecution and denying mail-in ballots to voters under the age of 65 who wished to vote by mail during the pandemic. The defendants appealed this order to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed the district court’s preliminary injunction and rejected the plaintiffs’ claims that the state’s age limitation violated the 26th Amendment for abridging Texans’ right to vote based on age.
In April 2021, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, reasserting their racial discrimination claims under Section 2 of the VRA and arguing that the state’s age limitations on absentee voting violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment as well as the 26th Amendment. In today’s order, the judge agreed with the defendants and dismissed all of the plaintiffs’ remaining claims, stating that they were “based on speculative future election policies and pandemic conditions.” Therefore, the case cannot proceed with respect to any of the plaintiffs’ claims and the state’s current age limitations remain in effect.