A lawsuit filed earlier this week by two GOP candidates and a Republican member of the Texas House asked the Texas Supreme Court to throw out drive-thru ballots, arguing such voting was illegal. The case is currently being handled by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston.
The lawsuit could jeopardize the votes of more than 115,000 voters in Harris County, which includes Houston, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
The all-Republican Texas Supreme Court already smacked down multiple attempts to stop citizens from drive-thru voting. The new complaint seeks to invalidate votes that have already been cast.
“Allowing an illegal voting scheme that invites corruption and fraud is tantamount to voter suppression because legal votes will be nullified by illegal votes,” the lawsuit, filed in part by Republican state Rep. Steve Toth, said.
The lawsuit argued that drive-thru voting goes beyond what the Texas election code permits for curbside voting because the code’s “narrowly defined categories” do not include drive-thru voting during a pandemic.
“Despite the fact that the Texas Election Code restricts curbside voting to specific and narrowly defined categories of voters Defendant — using the COVID-19 pandemic as his pretext — is permitting any and all Harris County registered voters to vote curbside or drive-thru and vote in violation of the Texas Election Code,” the lawsuit argued.
The lawsuit added that 100,000 “illegal drive-thru votes” had already been cast.
Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, named as the defendant in the lawsuit, said the plan was legal and approved by the Texas Secretary of State.
“We’ll keep saying it: Drive-Thru Voting is safe, completely legal and the plan was approved by the Secretary of State. Every vote cast by registered voters will be counted,” Hollins tweeted Wednesday.
The push to invalidate the ballots ― in a state and county that have seen record-breaking turnout of early voters ― is especially alarming given that conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas signaled earlier this week that they may favor throwing out some ballots after the election. Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued a similar opinion.
Abhi Rahman, a spokesman for the Texas Democratic Party, told the American-Statesman that this week’s petition was filed by “cowards.”
“They are a disgrace to our state and our country,” Rahman told the publication. “They are so afraid of losing this election because Texans are rising up.”
Austin lawyer C. Robert Heath argued in a memo prepared for Harris County that the purpose of state voting laws is to preserve the right to vote, not take it away.
“If a court or other authority were to decide to invalidate those votes, it would require ignoring or overruling more than a century of Texas law,” Heath said.
The case now goes before conservative Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court, who scheduled an emergency hearing for Monday morning, Slate courts reporter Mark Stern tweeted Saturday.