On Sunday, the Texas Supreme Court denied Republicans’ efforts to reject more than 120,000 votes already cast at stopping-off places in Harris County, leaving Republicans the only option remaining at the federal level.
The court decision came without comment.
The effort to get rid of votes from Harris County, which includes Houston and is largely Democratic, now hinges on a nearly identical effort at the federal level, where a judge called an election watch hearing on Monday.
The lawsuit argues that the 10 drive-thru voting sites in Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, operate illegally and are arranged in locations that favor Democrats.
The system was first implemented this year by Chris Hollins, the Harris County Clerk, with the unanimous approval of the County Commissioners, after being tested in a pilot program during the ‘summer.
More than 127,000 voters voted on the sites, and the number could rise to more than 135,000 until election day Tuesday, said Susan Hays, a Harris County lawyer. She said county officials plan to vigorously challenge the lawsuit, which she described as an act of “voter suppression.”
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“It’s crazy,” she said. “Votes should count.”
Democrats on Sunday were hoping the decision by the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court would bode well for their battle at the federal level.
The case will be heard Monday morning by Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, who was appointed by President George W. Bush.
In a motion Friday asking to intervene in the matter, Democrats said they threatened to “throw the Texas election into chaos by overturning the votes of more than 100,000 eligible Texas voters who voted” on the websites of delivery service. The motion was introduced by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the campaign of MJ Hegar, a Democratic candidate for the Texas Senate.
The plaintiffs, which include State Representative Steve Toth and Conservative activist Steve Hotze, argue that drive-by voting “is a violation of federal and state law and must be stopped.”
In a telephone interview on Saturday, Mr Toth said only the legislature has the power to set up a drive-thru voting system. He also said the layout of the sites was geared toward Democratic voters, noting that Mr. Hollins was vice president of finance for the Texas Democratic Party.
“If Hollins is really concerned that everyone is portrayed accurately, why are nine of the 10 settled in predominantly democratic areas?” said Toth, who represents part of neighboring Montgomery County.
He denied the trial was intended to dampen Democratic momentum amid record early voting rates in Houston and other heavily Democratic areas in the final days before the election.
“We are not the ones who deprive anyone of their voting rights,” he said. “Hollins did this.”
In one Twitter statement On Saturday, Hollins said drive-thru voting was “a safe, secure and convenient way to vote,” adding: “The Texas Election Code allows it, the Secretary of State has approved it and 127,000 voters in all walks of life have used it. “
He said his office was “determined to count every vote cast by voters registered in this election” and that voters would be notified if court proceedings required them to take further action.