HOUSTON – A federal judge on Monday rejected what appears to many to be a Republican voter suppression tactic to invalidate nearly 127,000 ballots in Houston and Harris County that were cast at drive-thru polling centers due to the pandemic.
The lawsuit was filed by conservative Texas activists who did not want the votes to be counted.
The Texas Supreme Court recently decided to allow the votes, but not satisfied with that decision, the group escalated it to the federal level. In the end,
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen agreed with the first ruling.
According to the Associated Press, Hanen said the opponents to drive-thru centers — who were represented by former Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill— had no standing to bring a lawsuit. He added that people had already voted and that conservative activists had months to bring a challenge sooner.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner released the following statement:
U.S. Federal District Judge Andrew Hanen upheld a decision by the Texas Supreme Court to honor the ballots cast through Harris County’s drive-thru voting polls.
“The right of people to vote is sacred. Once individuals have cast their vote in a process set up by Harris County, approved by the Texas Secretary of State and affirmed by the Texas Supreme Court, it would have been devastating for a federal judge to toss out even one ballot, let alone 127,000 votes.
“The fact that a specific group sought to suppress and void these ballots is unconscionable. I am glad the federal judge said no.
“These frivolous, divisive, and suppressive attempts to thwart people’s right to vote must stop. The individuals cast their ballot at one of the 10 safe, secure, and legal drive-through voting locations throughout Harris County.
“I encourage those who have not voted to exercise their right by using their voice and their vote on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3.”
Harris County is the nation’s third largest county and is considered a crucial battleground in Texas, where President Donald Trump and Republicans are bracing for the closest election in decades on Tuesday. In Harris County, a record 1.4 million early votes had already been cast during the early voting period.