Court Denies GOP Request To Block Drive-Through Voting In Harris County, Texas
Updated at 4:00 p.m. ET
U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen today threw out a suit challenging the legality of some 127,000 votes cast at drive-through voting sites in the Houston area. He ruled the plaintiffs don't have legal standing to sue.
Harris County, Texas' most populous county, and majority-Democratic, erected ten tents to expedite the early voting process, as a way of allowing people to vote safely during the coronavirus pandemic. They were also in place this summer, prior to the state's primary. Noting that, Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee, asked plaintiffs "Why am I just getting this case?" He later said the suit was not timely, and that "this has been going on all summer."
The suit was brought by a group of Republican activists, who argued the move by Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, a Democrat, was an illegal expansion of curbside voting, which is permitted under Texas law.
A similar challenge had been dismissed by the Texas Supreme Court Sunday. All of that court's justices were appointed by Republicans.
Hansen said that if he found the plaintiffs did have standing, he would have still ruled against them, "as to the voting that has already taken place," but that he would "probably enjoin tomorrow's votes."
He also ordered that records of the votes already cast in the drive through facilities be maintained, in case his decision is reversed on appeal.
One of the intervenors in the hearing, ACLU lawyer Andre Segura, argued that a ruling allowing the ballots to be thrown out would cause people to have to vote a second time.
"Once the egg has been scrambled it doesn't make sense to put it back in the egg," Segura said, adding: "We're talking about a very large scramble."
Other attorneys said some of the affected voters were receiving medical treatment and would be unable to get to the polls on Election Day.
The Texas case is one of a number of legal challenges to voting and ballot counting, many of them brought by Republicans.
Texas, long a GOP stronghold, has become an unlikely swing state this year with urban and suburban areas like Harris County accounting for the bulk of the growing Democratic vote. In the early vote period alone, the state has already exceeded its voting totals from the 2016 general election.
Harris County has also been the site of pre-election vandalism. Some one spray painted "Election No, Revolution Yes" and a hammer and sickle on windows at the county's Democratic party headquarters, and the building's locks were filled with super glue, according to the Texas Tribune.
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