Justice Department Sues Texas Over New Voting Law That Will 'Disenfranchise' Voters

 Texas State Capitol  - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.11.2021
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The US Justice Department (DOJ) is suing Texas over the state’s new voting law, known as SB1. The federal government says the law disenfranchises voters and is in violation of federal voting rights laws.
The two key provisions the Justice Department claims violate federal voting laws are restrictions on voter assistance at the voting booth and a requirement to reject mail-in ballots in certain situations.
The DOJ believes that limiting voter assistance at the voting booth will disproportionately hurt voters with limited English proficiency, particularly as 27% of Texas residents speak Spanish. They also argue that a provision to reject mail-in ballots with “immaterial errors and omissions” will harm voters with disabilities, the elderly, members of the military deployed out of state, and American citizens residing outside of the country.
The DOJ, in their complaint, assert that these provisions violate section 208 of the Voting Rights Act and Section 101 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They add, “These vulnerable voters already confront barriers to the ballot box, SB 1 will exacerbate the challenges they face in exercising their fundamental right to vote.”
The complaint has been filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas San Antonio Division.
The Texas SB1 was signed into law on September 7 and immediately sparked concern among voting rights activists. Many of the new provisions appear to directly target the strategies employed in Harris County, Texas, to make voting easier.
The county has 2.4 million registered voters and used drive-thru voting stations to great effect. Many of the county’s drive-thru polling stations were under tents. One was in the parking garage at the Toyota Center, the stadium of the Houston Rockets basketball team.
However, Texas’ SB1 explicitly bans the practice of drive-thru voting, and states, “the polling place may not be located in a tent or similar temporary movable structure or a parking garage, parking lot, or similar facility designed primarily for motor vehicles.”
The strategies used by Harris County to increase the ease of voting were said to predominantly be used by voters of color.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement about the DOJ’s lawsuit, “Texas is torpedoing American democracy and our constitutional right to vote. We are encouraged to see the DOJ pushing back."
Voting rights is a priority for Democrats in Washington and the Biden administration. A DOJ lawsuit win against the restrictive Texas Republican voter laws could prove instrumental to the party’s success.
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