On Thursday, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) sued Texas state over new voting restrictions. The department alleged that some of the controversial new voting rules of Texas violate federal civil rights laws – as the Biden government intends to combat a recent trend of voting laws in Republican-administered states. The latest lawsuit from the federal government takes targets at Senate Bill 1, which bans twenty-four-hour and drive-through voting, forbids officials from sending out unwanted mail-in ballot applications, involves absentee voters to provide identifications, and gives more access to prejudiced poll-watchers.
Reuters: U.S. DOJ SAYS FILED LAWSUIT AGAINST STATE OF TEXAS OVER CERTAIN RESTRICTIVE VOTING PROCEDURES IMPOSED BY TEXAS SENATE BILL SIGNED INTO LAW IN SEPT 2021
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 4, 2021
The justice department argued the voting law, which Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed around two months ago, could bring drawbacks for voters with disabilities by limiting the types of support they can receive at the ballot box, so it will violate the Voting Rights Act. Additionally, the Biden government said the stricter rules for the voting law accepting mail-in votes could exclude some eligible mail voters based on documentation errors or lapses immaterial to their qualifications to vote, which is named ‘a Civil Rights Act violation.’
The suit asks a San Antonio court to bring down those law sections. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke stated that laws that harm eligible residents’ access to the vote box have no place in the U.S. democracy. Similarly, the Biden government sued the Georgia administration in June over its new voting law. It argued that some of the provisions of the law (including its restrictions on absentee voting) drafted to abridge or deny the right to vote on account of race. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the voting law in March.
Easier to Vote and Harder to Cheat
The Republican government in Texas sought stricter voting rules for the last some months, a move that follows former Republican President Donald Trump’s false claims of widespread vote-rigging in the 2020 Presidential election. Republicans such as Abbott say the voting law will make it easier to vote and difficult to cheat, but adversaries warn it could overpower votes, especially among Black people and in left-leaning zones such as Houston, which offered twenty-four-hour and drive-through voting last year.
Republican party controlled the Texas state assembly, but Democratic representatives delayed the approval of any election laws for over one month this summer by performing a dramatic protest that denied Republican leaders a minimum to hold votes. The deadlock ended by mid-August when required Democratic lawmakers returned to the state capital of Austin for representatives to reach a minimum number, and a voting law instantly flew through the state Senate and House and Governor Abbott signed it within weeks.
Many local leaders and advocates are also taking legal action against Texas over voting SB1. For example, community organizations, voting groups, and officials in Harris County – which is home to Houston – filed two national lawsuits some days before the signing of SB1, and groups such as the (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) NAACP, and Voto Latino filed at least three federal and state lawsuits soon after Abbott signed SB1.
The standoff between President Biden and Texas
The voting rights lawsuit of the Justice Department is the latest legal deadlock between Texas and President joe Biden. Furthermore, the Biden administration sues Texas over its law that bans virtually all abortions after approximately six weeks of pregnancy. Last month, a federal court temporarily blocked the law, but an appeals court paused that federal court ruling. Finally, in June, the government sued Texas over an executive directive by Governor Abbott ordering state troopers to stop any vehicles operated by private beings to transport illegal immigrants.
On the other hand, Texas repetitively sued the Biden government over its environmental and immigration policies, including a suit filed two days after the inauguration of the president that led a federal court judge to stop his hundred-day moratorium on most deportations.
What is Texas New Voting Law?
Under the latest Texas voting law, individuals assisting disabled voters (any physical disability or language barrier disability) in casting their vote must take a longer path that now includes accepting a penalty of perjury. Similarly, it removes old language about answering the questions of voters, which opponents say will damage voters with disabilities.
In addition, mail-in votes must also now include the license number of a driver or the ending four digits of a Social Security number, which DOJ says increases the chances of votes being mistakenly rejected and excluding some eligible voters. Likewise, the law bans drive-thru voting twenty-four-hour polling locations, which are not challenged in the lawsuit of the Justice Department.
According to the statistics of the Brennan Center for Justice, Texas is among at least eighteen states that approved new ballot restrictions since the 2020 general elections. These vote laws are part of a national Republican campaign, including Arizona, Florida, and Georgia, to strict ballot laws in the name of security. In addition, Trump urged Governor Abbott to audit the election outcomes in Texas, even though he won the state.