Federal judge to hear Republican challenge that could block 127,000 drive-thru ballots in Texas

  • A Texas federal judge set an emergency hearing on Monday to hear a legal challenge regarding drive-thru voting in Harris County, which could potentially block roughly 127,000 votes, according to CNN.
  • Andrew Hanen of the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, will conduct the hearing.
  • Harris County is the state's largest county, with over 4.7 million residents.
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A Texas federal judge set an emergency hearing on Monday to hear a legal challenge regarding drive-thru voting in Harris County, which could potentially block roughly 127,000 votes, according to CNN.

Judge Andrew Hanen of the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, an appointee of former president George W. Bush, will conduct a hearing at 10:30 a.m. on Monday.

The lawsuit was filed last week by several Republican plaintiffs, including Dr. Steven Hotze, a longtime conservative activist, along with state Rep. Steve Toth, US House candidate Wendell Champion, and judicial candidate Sharon Hemphill. The group claims that Democratic Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins exceeded his constitutional authority by permitting drive-thru voting. The exception to in-person voting indoors was granted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With over 4.7 million residents, Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, is the most populous county in Texas. The county permitted 10 drive-thru sites, which were open to every eligible voter.

The new lawsuit comes in the heels of the Texas Supreme Court dismissing several petitions to end drive-thru voting in Harris County.

The plaintiffs requested that the federal court "reject any votes it finds were cast in violation of the Texas Election Code," require that the defendant keep the memory cards from the drive-thru locations, and "not enter or download the memory cards from the ten (10) drive-thru locations into the Tally machine until this Court issues an order on this Complaint and Plaintiffs request for a permanent injunction."

The drive-thru votes were slated to be counted starting on Election Day.

Hollins, the county clerk, has emphatically stated that drive-thru voting was conducted legally.

"Drive-thru voting is a safe, secure and convenient way to vote," he said in a statement. "Texas Election Code allows it, the Secretary of State approved it, and 127,000 voters from all walks of life have used it. Our office is committed to counting every vote cast by registered voters in this election. In the event court proceedings require any additional steps from these voters, we will work swiftly to provide that information to the public."

Texas, a longtime Republican bastion, has emerged as a major battleground in the 2020 presidential election, with most public polling showing a close race between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. More than 9.6 million Texans have already cast ballots in the state, exceeding the entire 2016 vote total before Election Day.

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