On Monday, The Root reported that a group of Republicans hellbent on ending drive-thru voting in Harris County—a largely Democratic county that includes Houston—petitioned the Texas Supreme Court to throw out nearly 127,000 drive-thru votes that had already been cast. That request was rejected because, while the Texas Supreme Court justices are all Republicans themselves, they’re not the kind of Republicans who facilitate voter disenfranchisement and call it fair democracy.
But hours after the court’s ruling was made, a Harris County clerk announced that the county will give the GOP babies some of their bottle and close nine of the county’s 10 drive-thru voting locations on Election Day while upholding the validity of the ballots that were cast early.
In announcing the decision to close most of the drive-thru locations, Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins said on Twitter that he “cannot in good faith encourage voters to cast their votes in tents if that puts their votes at risk.” The location that will remain open is the Toyota Center, which has “walls and a roof” and would fit the judge’s description as a building, a county clerk spokesperson told CNN. The judge had ruled that voting needed to take place in a “structure.”
Just before Hollins’ announcement, Republicans challenging voting in Texas’ Harris County had asked a federal appeals court to block drive-thru voting on Election Day, after losing a bid earlier in the day to invalidate all drive-thru voting in the Democratic-leaning area, which includes Houston. A panel of judges from the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals denied that request early Tuesday morning.
In their appeal, the Republicans dropped their request to invalidate the ballots already cast but left open the door to doing so later.
To be clear, drive-thru voting isn’t much different from normal in-person voting. According to the Texas Tribune, voters pull up in their cars, a poll worker confirms their registrations and identifications and they are handed an electronic tablet through their car windows to cast ballots. So it’s the same process as regular-degular voting except, instead of doing it in a building’s private booth, voters get to avoid COVID-19 infection risk by voting in their cars. The members of this group of Republicans-for-voter-suppression—who had argued that drive-thru voting is unlawful and unconstitutional because state legislators are supposed to decode how elections are run, not counties—are ignoring the fact that this is not a normal election season. This election is taking place in the midst of a global pandemic in a country where coronavirus cases are still surging. Either they’re completely oblivious to this fact or they’re just afraid the orange menace and all of his minions are going to be voted out and they’re desperately trying to invalidate Democratic votes.
Despite all but one drive-thru location being shut down to appease whiny-ass Republicans, Texas Democrats appear to consider the overall decision a victory for the party. Rebecca Acuña, the Texas state director for Joe Biden’s campaign said in a statement that “Today is a victory for Texas voters and the more than 120,000 Texans who followed the rules, made a plan to drive-in vote, and exercised their constitutional right,” CNN reports.
Meanwhile, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said the lawsuit never should have been brought and entertained by the courts in the first place.
“Texans who lawfully voted at drive-thru locations should have never had to fear that their votes wouldn’t be counted and their voices wouldn’t be heard,” Hinojosa said. “This lawsuit was shameful and it should have never seen the light of day.”
Regardless of the lack of drive-thru polling sites, the Tribune reports that there are expected to be more than 800 polling locations open in Harris County on Tuesday.