In today’s episode of You Know...I’m Starting to Think Republicans Really Don’t Want Democrats Voting, on Sunday, the Texas Supreme Court rejected a request from a group of Republican activists and candidates to throw out well over 100,000 ballots cast from drive-thru polling sites in largely Democratic Harris County.
Here’s how drive-thru voting works as reported by the Texas Tribune:
After testing the approach during the July primary runoff with little controversy, Harris County, home to Houston, set up 10 drive-thru centers for the fall election to make early voting easier for people concerned about entering polling places during the pandemic. Voters pull up in their cars and, after their registrations and identifications have been confirmed by poll workers, are handed an electronic tablet through their car windows to cast ballots.
So generally, drive-thru voting is exactly like regular voting except you get to do it in your car in order to lessen COVID-19 infection risk—the horror!
So what great beef do these Republicans—which include conservative blowhard Steven Hotze, Harris County Republicans state Rep. Steve Toth, congressional candidate Wendell Champion and judicial candidate Sharon Hemphill—have with what sounds like a completely practical method for allowing voters to cast their ballots safely? According to CNN, they believe the practice violates clauses in the U.S. Constitution that were probably written without the consideration of a global pandemic happening during election season.
The latest state and federal challenges argue that drive-thru voting violates the US Constitution, which says state legislatures decide how elections are run. The plaintiffs also argued it violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, in that the county is adopting a manner of voting that has not been adopted by other Texas counties.
Republican State Rep. Steve Toth, who’s listed on the petition as a plaintiff and who’s running for reelection, argued it’s the job of the state legislature — not local counties — to implement changes such as drive-thru voting.
According to the Tribune, this group of voter disenfranchisement enthusiasts pretending to be concerned about the rule of law also argued that drive-thru voting is an expansion of curbside voting which, under state law, should only be available to voters with disabilities. In other words, they’re mad because voting accommodations are helping more people than are supposed to be helped to vote safely—the horror, I tell ya.
Hotze, Hemphill and the Harris County Republican Party made the same argument regarding curbside voting when they filed a request to dismantle drive-thru voting hours before early voting began in the state on Oct. 12. The Texas Supreme Court—which, to its credit is an all-Republican court—rejected that bid as well after the Harris County Clerk’s Office contested it arguing that “more than a century of Texas case law requires that votes be counted even if election official[s] violate directory election laws,” the Tribune reports.
In the Republican group’s second attempt at shutting down drive-thru voting, they took things a step further in asking that votes already cast be thrown out. If the court hadn’t rejected the petition, nearly 127,000 votes would have been purged.
More from the Tribune:
The county clerk’s office countered that the first challenge to drive-thru voting had already been denied, and the second filing came much too late.
“Hotze filed a petition contesting drive thru locations on the third day of early voting which this Court already denied,” the clerk’s Friday filing said. “He filed this second petition two and a half weeks into early voting, six days before Election Day, and after fifty percent of registered voters have already voted.”
According to the Tribune, the “I heart voter suppression” group is filing a similar lawsuit in federal court arguing, once again, that the Constitution is being violated with the hopes of having all of those votes thrown out literally one day before the election. The hearing in that case is scheduled for Monday morning in a federal district court based in Houston.