Texas Supreme Court Makes Surprise Ruling Against GOP Voter Suppression

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The Texas Supreme Court has rejected a demand from state Republicans to block access to drive-thru polling places in Harris County, Texas, which is the state’s most populous county and has many Democrats. Drive-thru polling locations allow voters to cast their ballots without leaving their vehicle. Once arriving, poll workers check voters’ identification and give them electronic voting machines by which to cast their votes. Republicans had argued — in a suit filed mere hours before early in-person voting was set to start in the state — that drive-thru polling places constituted illegal extensions of “curbside” voting, which is a service that allows for disabled voters to cast ballots without going inside.

The Texas Supreme Court did not issue an opinion with their rejection of the GOP’s challenge to drive-thru polling places in Harris County, although an earlier dismissal of the case from a lower-level appeals court noted that “the lawsuit was filed too late on the eve of early voting,” as the Texas Tribune explains. The plans to implement drive-thru polling places in the general election had been widely publicized for months prior to the lawsuit from Texas Republicans challenging the polling places’ legitimacy. Were these Republicans intentionally trying to cause confusion over voting procedures in the state?

The Texas Supreme Court already dealt with another similarly late legal challenge from Texas Republicans over voting procedures in the state. Texas Republicans had sought to undo an extension of the early in-person voting period that had been implemented by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who himself is a Republican but drew criticism from his party anyway. That case came down to the wire prior to the planned October 13 start of early in-person voting in Texas, and the state’s Supreme Court threw it out, pointing out the potential of sparking confusion among voters with the very late change to elections procedure that Republicans wanted.

Republicans generally cast their many challenges to voting access under the guise of concern about the security of the election, but the actual real-world result of their schemes is that — when they’re successful — voters are disenfranchised. In the name of their political ideology, Republicans repeatedly seem ready and willing to sacrifice a basic attention to upholding the standards of the democratic process in the United States. They frequently over-hype their concerns about election security to begin with — the president’s own consistent claims of some kind of looming system-threatening fraud accompanying the widespread use of mail-in ballots are false, full stop.

Prior to the latest ruling in the case over drive-thru polling locations from the state Supreme Court, there had been concern on the part of Harris County officials that votes that had already been cast at the drive-thru polling sites could be thrown out. For now, that possibility seems to be off-the-table.

Although Texas generally leads towards the Republicans, even there, the president’s polling lead is slim. As of Friday afternoon, the FiveThirtyEight polling average for Texas has Trump in the lead by a mere 0.6 percent! That kind of margin is definitely more than surmountable.