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Lawsuits & Litigation

Harris County, Advocacy Groups Sue on Texas’s Possible New Voting Rules

— September 5, 2021

The lawsuit was filed even before Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the rules into effect.

Harris County officials, along with numerous advocacy groups, have filed separate lawsuits intending to challenge Texas’s new voting rules.

According to The Texas Tribune, a coalition of groups, including Harris County—the home of Houston, and the state’s most populous county—filed separate suits against Senate Bill 1, even before it has been signed into law.

Collectively, the plaintiffs allege that Texas’s voting laws, if enacted and enforced, will suppress voters and discourage public officials and institutions from helping Texas residents exercise their constitutional right to participate in local, state, and national elections.

“We cannot allow our democracy to be undermined by these blatantly illegal voting restrictions aimed at disenfranchising communities of color and voters with disabilities,” said attorney Ryan Cox of the Texas Civil Rights Project.

The lawsuits, adds The Texas Tribune, say that Senate Bill 1 violates a range of federal laws, including the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1972.

Beyond that, the complaints say that the state’s new laws infringe upon Texans’ First, 14th, and 15th Amendment rights.

A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

“Egregiously, SB 1 takes particular aim at voters with disabilities, voters with limited English proficiency — who, in Texas, are also overwhelmingly voters of color — and the organizations that represent, assist, and support these voters,” wrote the plaintiffs in one Austin-based lawsuit.

The plaintiffs in a San Antonio lawsuit—supported by Harris County—claim that Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminated against “voters of color” in designing, and pushing, their legislation.

The Tribune notes that S.B. 1 is a “far-reaching rewrite of the state’s election code.” It tightens mail-in voting requirements, prohibits local jurisdictions from expanding ballot options, and sets new rules—along with potential criminal penalties—for anyone who seeks to assist voters in casting their ballots.

While the measure was pushed and passed by Texas state Republicans who wish to protect “election integrity,” the measure has yet to be signed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze indicated that the governor plans to sign the bill—and believes S.B. 1 necessary for Texas democracy.

“Protecting the integrity of our elections is critical in the state of Texas, which is why Governor Abbott made election integrity an emergency item during the regular legislative session and worked to ensure its passage by calling special session after special session ensuring uniform statewide rules,” Eze said in a statement.

Texas Republicans, like their counterparts across the country, have insisted—or implied—that the 2020 election was affected by widespread voter fraud, culminating in incumbent President Donald Trump’s loss to former Vice President Joe Biden.

However, there is no evidence to suggest that widespread voter fraud occurred anywhere in the United States. Critics of the Republican Party, and S.B. 1, have claimed that so-called “red states” are simply trying to make it more difficult for people to vote—especially people who are unlikely to cast their ballots in conservatives’ favor.


Before the legislation is even signed, Texas’ new voting rules are challenged in two federal lawsuits

Lawsuits begin as Texas GOP voting bill fight moves to court

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