The study "Age Discrimination in Voting At Home" calls for immediate litigation to challenge statutes in Texas and six other states on the basis that they violate the 26th Amendment. That amendment prohibits abridging citizens' right to vote based on age.
"The [26th] Amendment’s history and Congress’s intent show that courts will likely find these laws unconstitutional, particularly in light of new challenges presented amid the COVID-19 pandemic," according to the report. "These laws use age to create two classes of voters — one with easier access to the ballot box than the other — and work to abridge the voting rights of younger voters."
The study — released by a coalition including the Andrew Goodman Foundation, the UCLA Voting Rights Project and others — comes as multiple federal lawsuits challenge the legality of Texas' narrow rules on mail-in ballots. The all-Republican Texas Supreme Court recently rejected a separate challenge to the rules.
Voting-rights advocates argue Texas' absentee voting rules — some of the narrowest in the U.S. — should be expanded during the pandemic because crowded polls constitute an infection risk to voters and election administrators.
The state's Republican leadership has fought the expansion in court, claiming expanded mail-in voting opens the door to widespread fraud. The claim that voting by mail generates fraud has been widely debunked.
"The right to vote is the most fundamental, crucial right in our democracy," said Professor Joshua A. Douglas of the University of Kentucky law school, one of the report's authors. "It cannot be denied or abridged — especially during a pandemic. This report explains an important development in that continued struggle as we seek to achieve a more perfect union.”
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