Voting Rights Groups Sue Texas to Block Election Restrictions
(Bloomberg) -- A broad coalition of voting-rights advocates asked a Texas federal judge Friday to suspend the state’s new “election integrity” law, claiming it unconstitutionally eliminates, or sharply rolls back, ballot-box access for disabled, elderly and minority voters.
The law, which took effect Sept. 1, eliminates balloting practices several of Texas’s more populous counties implemented last year to expand voter access during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as drive-through voting, 24-hour voting, universal mail-ballot access, extended early voting hours and greater access to language translators.
Texas Republican politicians -- led by Governor Greg Abbott -- made passing the measure the Legislature’s highest priority this year, claiming the restrictions would curb voter fraud, which is almost nonexistent in Texas. Dozens of Democratic state representatives fled Texas earlier this year to try to block its passage by depriving the state House of Representatives of the quorum needed to conduct official business.
The law “officially cements Texas as the hardest state to vote in the country,” said Ryan V. Cox, a senior attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, one of the groups suing to block the measure. “For decades, voters of color have been silenced through voter suppression, gerrymandering and deceptive tactics. We cannot allow our democracy to be undermined by these blatantly illegal voting restrictions aimed at disenfranchising communities of color and voters with disabilities.”
The Texas Attorney General’s office didn’t immediately respond to a call and an email seeking comment on the challenge.
The civil rights groups are asking for the law to be permanently blocked as a violation of the U.S. Constitution, the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, and Americans With Disabilities Act.
The case is OCA-Greater Houston v Texas Secretary of State Jose A. Esparza, 1:21-780, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).
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