Travis County judge blocks Abbott order limiting multiple ballot drop-off sites

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AUSTIN ( -- A state district judge has placed a temporary stay on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's order limiting counties across the state to a single drop-off location for mail-in ballots.

Judge Tim Sulak of the 353rd District Court in Travis County issued the stay Thursday morning. "The limitation to a single drop-off location for mail ballots would likely needlessly and unreasonably increase risks of exposure to COVID-19 infections, and needlessly and unreasonably substantially burden potential voters’ constitutionally protected rights to vote, as a consequence of increased travel and delays, among other things," Sulak wrote.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed the ruling to the state's 3rd Court of Appeals, pausing any effect from Sulak's decision until the court reviews the appeal.

The state case was filed by the Anti-Defamation League Austin, Southwest and Texoma Regions challenging Abbott's October 1 executive order, arguing the order violated the Texas Election Code. The challenge argues that Abbott doesn’t have the authority under state law to limit hand delivery locations for absentee ballots, and that the order violates voters' equal protection rights under the Texas constitution.

The case is similar to one filed in federal court last week that prompted an injunction against the limits; that injunction was set aside earlier this week by a federal appeals court.