Voting rights advocates, civic groups, and two Texas voters rushed on Friday to file a bid to block Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s order last October regarding the upcoming election. The ruling stated that Texas voters should only have one drop-off location per one county to cast absentee ballots.
The filed lawsuit in federal court in Austin, which was led by the League of United Latin American Citizens, League of Women Voters Texas, and Texas residents, calls for an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. This movement forced Travis and Harris Counties – two of the state’s most significant Democratic strongholds – to shutter drop-off sites opened this week.
“In the midst of an election that is already underway, forcing such new burdens on voters who relied on a different set of election rules to make their voting plan, is unreasonable, unfair, and unconstitutional.”The plaintiffs
The plaintiffs also said that the governor’s notion can disproportionately impact voters with disabilities and no access to reliable transportation, calling this tactic a “blatant voter suppression” and can cause confusion for the voters.
The proclamation entailed in-person delivery of marked mail ballots for the November 3rd election. Texas counties can only have one in-person site for ballot drop-offs and poll watchers to observe the process. This proclamation would begin on October 2, where eligible voters should deliver the mail to a single early voting clerk’s office location publicly assigned by a county.
“The State of Texas has a duty to voters to maintain the integrity of our elections.”Texas Governor Greg Abbott
It implied that the order would enhance security protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure greater transparency to stop attempts of illegal voting.
However, the Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa firmly stated that the governor is trying to adjust the rules at the last minute as Republicans are on the verge of losing. Harris County Clerk also seconded the motion, saying that the governor’s haphazard decision is intentional to make it difficult for Texas voters to vote.
The plaintiffs also argue that the COVID-19 threat indirectly affects Latino voters in Texas as the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that only 39% of the state’s population accounts for COVID-19 cases to date. Meanwhile, the lawsuit has to proceed as soon as possible due to the early voting that begins on October 13.
Gov. Abbott affirmed that absentee ballot delivery procedures would be strict, where voters should present an identification form, show only during specific hours, and only deliver their ballots. Contrary to the lawsuit’s claims, there is no evidence that the drop-off sites enable voter fraud, as per the governor’s statement.