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Supreme Court OKs Texas Ballot Law

June 12, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Texas law that lets voters in federal elections cast their ballots prior to the November election day without having to state a reason survived a Supreme Court challenge Monday.

The justices rejected an appeal that said Texas’ early-voting law nullifies the notion, reflected in federal law, that all federal elections in any given year should be held on one day nationwide.

In addition to an absentee-voting law that provides early voting by mail for people who expect to be away from home on election day or who are unable to make it to a public polling place, the Texas early-voting law lets any registered voter cast a ballot up to 17 days before an election.

An appeal by five Texas voters and the Voting Integrity Project public interest group urged the nation’s highest court to use their challenge to decide ``whether Congress has ultimate control over the timing of federal elections.″

The appeal said 15 other states have election laws that similarly allow unrestricted early voting. They are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington and Wyoming.

In addition, the appeal said, two states _ Florida and Vermont _ do not require absentee voters to explain why they cannot vote on the federal election day, the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

A federal judge and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found no problem with the Texas law.

``Because the election of federal officials in Texas is not decided until Texas voters go to the polls on federal election day, we conclude that the Texas early-voting scheme is not inconsistent with federal election laws,″ the appeals court ruled last January.

It noted that no election results are released until the votes are tabulated on election day, and concluded that ``the election of federal representatives in Texas is not decided or consummated before federal election day.″

In seeking Supreme Court review, lawyers for the Texas law’s challengers said the appeals court ruling means federal laws ``no longer mandate a single uniform date for holding federal elections. Instead, they establish a mere deadline for completing federal elections.″

The case is The Voting Integrity Project vs. Bomer, 99-1685.


On the Net: For the appeals court ruling: http://www.uscourts.gov/links.html and click on 5th Circuit.

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