A federal judge on Monday rejected another last-ditch Republican effort to invalidate nearly 127,000 votes in Houston because the ballots were cast at drive-thru polling centers established during the pandemic. The lawsuit was brought by conservative Texas activists who oppose expanded voting access in Harris County, where a record 1.4 million early votes have been cast. The county is the nation’s third largest. US District Judge Andrew Hanen's decision to hear arguments on the brink of Election Day drew concern from voting rights activists, the AP reports, and came after the Texas Supreme Court rejected a nearly identical challenge over the weekend. Hanen said the opponents of drive-thru centers—represented by former Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill—had no standing to bring a lawsuit. He added that people had already voted and that conservative activists had months to bring a challenge.
But Hanen still expressed doubts about whether Texas law allows voting from cars, even in a pandemic. "If I were voting tomorrow, I would not vote in a drive-thru just out of my concern as to whether that's legal or not," Hanen said. Woodfill said he would immediately appeal the decision, accusing Harris County officials of using their office to help Democrats win. If enough Harris County voters pick Joe Biden over President Trump, "we could lose Texas," Woodfill said. "And if Trump loses Texas, then we lose the national election. As far as I’m concerned this is ground zero." Another 20,000 or more voters were expected to use the county's 10 drive-thru polling locations Tuesday. Several voters who already used the drive-thru centers rushed to join mounting opposition to the lawsuit, including a Houston lawyer whose wife was 35 weeks pregnant when she cast her ballot. She gave birth to twins Friday. "My vote counts," David Hobbs said. "My wife's vote counts." (There's been concern about voter suppression in Texas.)