Liberal groups have sued several Texas officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, to block enforcement of the state’s newest election law changes, claiming they ”disproportionately impact” non-white voters.
The 74-page lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in San Antonio comes only days after the measure received final passage, which was delayed more than six weeks by the state’s elected Democrats who fled Texas in order to deny the Legislature a quorum and enacting the bill.
According to The Hill, Abbott, a Republican, hasn’t yet signed the bill, which bars some tactics employed by Democratic jurisdictions during the 2020 election, ostensibly to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Among its provisions, elections officials are prohibited from sending voters unsolicited applications to request a mail-in ballot. Harris County, which includes Houston, sent the applications last year. Any election official who does so again faces the possibility of jail time.
It also bars drive-thru voting and round-the-clock voting, which Harris County also permitted.
”S.B. 1 will reduce voter participation and discriminate on the basis of race, and for those reasons it should be struck down in court,” according to Nina Perales of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, one of the groups that brought the suit. ”In addition to making voting more difficult for all voters, S.B. 1 is aimed directly at Latinos and Asian Americans with specific provisions that cut back on assistance to limited English-proficient voters.”
Advocates of the bill said the new measure will improve voting security and limit fraud.
Challenges to voting law changes in other states have failed, most notably in Arizona in July, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld its changes, including the prohibition of ”ballot harvesting.”
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion in the case, declaring “mere inconvenience cannot be enough to demonstrate a violation” of the Voting Rights Act.