Appeals court upholds Abbott order limiting multiple ballot drop-off sites

Court gavel

AUSTIN ( -- A federal appeals court upheld Gov. Greg Abbott's order limiting Texas counties to a single location for ballot drop-offs, in a ruling issued Monday night.

A three judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Abbott's order actually expanded voter's rights, as opposed to suppressing them. Under Texas law, absentee ballots can normally only be returned in person on Election Day; Abbott's order, issued in late July, expanded the drop-off period as well as expanded the period of in-person early voting by six days, beginning Tuesday.

Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, in the panel's opinion, said Abbott's order "effectively gives voters 40 extra days to hand-deliver a marked mail-in ballot to an early voting clerk. And the voter still has the traditional option she has always had for casting a mail-in ballot: mailing it."

The ruling overturns a lower court decision that blocked Abbott's order.

Abbott praised the ruling in a late night Tweet, saying "critics were clearly clueless about the legality of my action and simply voiced prejudicial political opinions."