Common Cause Texas Applauds As Federal Court Rejects Partisan Effort to Throw Out 127,000 Drive-thru Ballots

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HOUSTON – One day before Election Day, a federal judge dismissed a petition saying a group of four Republicans don’t have standing to invalidate 127,000 drive-thru ballots casted by voters in Harris county, Texas. Drive-thru ballots account for about 10% of all in-person ballots cast during early voting in Harris county, which includes Houston and is the most populous county with 2.4 million voters. 

“Voter suppression doesn’t get much more blatant than this outrageous attempt to invalidate the votes of nearly 127,000 Texans,” said Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas. “We hope this ruling eliminates some of the anxiety and confusion so many Houstonians were feeling. This should allow the election to be decided by Texas voters and not by a small group of people trying to disrupt our democracy through litigation, suppression and confusion.” 

Last night Common Cause Texas and the Texas State Conference of NAACP Branches filed a motion to intervene as defendants. Common Cause Texas intervened to serve people whose fundamental right to vote would be invalidated by the plaintiffs’ request to toss out ballots casted at drive-thru polling locations.

Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision to dismiss the petition halts the latest attempt to dismantle drive-thru voting. The Texas Supreme Court ruled twice within the last week that it could proceed. The last minute effort before Election Day is among the partisan legal challenges to voting rights including vote by mail and dropboxes enacted across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Drive-thru voting is not curbside voting. Curbside voting occurs throughout the state, and is for voters that need accommodations because of illness or disability. Drive-thru voting polling locations function as regular polling locations, allowing any voter to vote in-person in a safe, efficient and convenient way while following all requirements for in-person voting. There is no precedent for throwing out votes cast in good faith by people using the same machines that are used at other locations.

This is part of a national strategy targeting voters and seeking to create chaos in our elections. From Pennsylvania to Minnesota, partisan actors across the country are seeking to invalidate votes because they fear their power being taken away. But the will of the people is what should determine the outcome of our elections. The right to vote must be preserved for every eligible voter.

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