Texas court temporarily reinstates limited ballot drop-off sites

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Texas Supreme Court on Saturday temporarily reinstated the governor’s ban on multiple drop-off sites for mail ballots, in a short-term victory for President Donald Trump.

The ban will remain in effect while the state supreme court fully reviews a Friday appeals court ruling that overturned the order by Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican like the president, who faces Democrat Joe Biden in a race for the White House on Nov. 3.

The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals had unanimously agreed with a lower court that limiting the number of drop boxes would lengthen lines, increase the risk that voters could get infected with COVID-19, and infringe on their right to vote.[nL1N2HE207]

Trump has repeatedly criticized mail-in ballots, claiming without evidence they would lead to widespread fraud.

Abbott issued his order limiting mail-in ballot drop boxes to one per county on Oct. 1, saying it was aimed at preventing fraud. The move, which closed more than a dozen satellite locations in at least two counties, drew condemnation from Democrats and voting rights advocates.

Texas, which Trump won by nine percentage points in 2016, has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in more than four decades. But opinion polls have suggested it might be in reach for Biden, in part because of dissatisfaction over Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Reporting by Julia Harte, Editing by Franklin Paul