Republicans have been fighting to throw out some 127,000 ballots in Texas, in an eleventh-hour struggle that will culminate in a federal court hearing Monday morning.
The hearing follows a Texas Supreme Court decision that arrived Sunday evening striking down Republicans’ attempts to invalidate the votes, which were cast at drive-through polling sites across Harris County. Monday’s federal court decision—to be handed down by a Bush-appointed judge—would override the state Supreme Court’s.
The Republican plaintiffs involved in the federal suit argue that the county’s drive-through voting system is a “violation of state and federal law and must be stopped,” according to a New York Times report. Yet when state officials piloted the drive-throughs during the state’s July primaries they drew little attention; they were put in place for the November elections only after unanimous approval from county commissioners.
Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins maintains that the drive-through polling sites are up to Texas’s election code, and says that they provided voters with a “safe, secure and convenient way” to cast their ballots during a pandemic.
Of course, it makes perfect sense that Texas Republicans would target voters in this area: Harris County includes Houston, one of the state’s few Democratic-leaning cities. Recent polls also show Biden and Trump more closely matched in the Republican state, prompting speculation that 2020 may be the year Texas finally turns blue.
The election-eve litigation has left some voters feeling anxious about whether their votes will count, and if they’ll get another chance at voting if their previous ballots are thrown out.
“It just causes a lot of chaos and confusion,” Shelby Strudler, a Harris County voter told the Texas Tribune ahead of Sunday’s state Supreme Court ruling. “If this particular judge does nullify these votes, will I be allowed to vote on Tuesday? Am I not allowed to vote at all now? Does my vote not count at all?”
Susan Hays, an attorney for Harris County, told the Times that the Republican efforts can only be described as voter suppression.
“It’s nuts,” she said. “Votes should count.”