State Might Toss Nearly 127K Ballots in Tight Race

Republicans challenge the ballots in Harris County, Texas
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2020 2:00 PM CST
Lawsuits Target Nearly 127K Drive-Thru Ballots
With an election official looking on an elderly voter uses the drive-thru option to vote outside Richardson City Hall during early voting Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Richardson, Texas.   (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Nearly 127,000 people have voted at drive-thru polling places in Harris County, Texas—but new lawsuits might render those ballots null and void, the Texas Tribune reports. A conservative activist, a state representative, and two GOP candidates have filed their second lawsuit against what they call an illegal extension of curbside voting. "Unless stopped, illegal votes will be cast and counted in direct violation of the Texas Election Code and the United States Constitution," reads their latest petition. The plaintiffs claim Harris County is violating the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause by adopting a means of voting that's not used by other Texas counties, per CNN. The lawsuits are part of an apparent nationwide GOP strategy to challenge votes in a tight presidential race.

But Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins took exception: "Drive-thru voting is a safe, secure and convenient way to vote," he told KHOU. If the largely Democratic county loses in court, he said, "We will work swiftly to provide that information to the public." Indeed, voters may be asked to cast provisional ballots on Election Day if their drive-thru ballots are tossed out. Drive-thru voting—which has the same verification standards as other polling places—became popular as a safer alternative amid the coronavirus pandemic. "I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping for the best, but I think this is ridiculous," a voter told the Tribune. "They could have done this two weeks ago, and we could have voted [inside] in person." A federal judge set a Monday hearing for the lawsuit. (Pennsylvania is also facing a ballot battle.)

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