A federal court has dismissed another attempt by Democrat-aligned groups to change Texas voting procedures for the 2020 presidential election via lawsuits while using fear of the Chinese coronavirus as an excuse to bypass the legislature.
U.S. District Judge Jason Pulliam concluded in an opinion issued Monday that the courts lack the jurisdiction to “micromanage” state election processes:
“By asking this Court to order specific action and administer specific procedures for the administration of the 2020 election, Plaintiffs ask this Court to assume the role of the Texas legislature and exercise the discretion and authority explicitly reserved to that branch… In doing so, this Court would override any policy decisions to micromanage Texas’s election process.”
Left-wing activist organizations Mi Familia Vota and the Texas NAACP filed a lawsuit in July, claiming the state’s in-person voting procedures fail to ensure Texas voters can safely cast ballots during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Without challenging the constitutionality of any specific election law, they said Texas voting rules would unconstitutionally preclude certain protected classes of people—namely Black, Latino, and Native American voters—from voting in the upcoming November election.
“Texas’s election policies during the pandemic will unlawfully abrogate and abridge the constitutionally protected right to vote,” according to the complaint, which sought to change or suspend a long list of state election laws.
The Republican judge was sympathetic but said the “hypothetical allegations” were based on “conjecture” and granting plaintiffs’ requests for relief would require the court to “overstep its constitutionally defined role.”
Among other remedies, the plaintiffs wanted the court to force the state to:
- Extend early voting by another week, to start on October 5 (Gov. Greg Abbott already added six extra early voting days to the general election).
- Suspend limits on mobile early voting, also known as rolling polling (the Texas Democrat Party tried to revive rolling polling with a lawsuit of their own last year).
- Allow any voter to claim “disability” and vote curbside.
- Offer voters both hand-marked paper ballots and electronic voting machines at the polls.
- Loosen voter ID requirements so voters can cast ballots with a reasonable impediment affidavit, claiming the coronavirus as a “natural disaster.”
Plaintiffs wanted the court-imposed voting changes to stay in effect “until there are no existing cases of coronavirus in the state of Texas [emphasis added], or until there is a vaccine freely and readily available to all Texans.”
They also wanted the court to force the state to “rescind or modify any voting practice or procedure” deemed by the court to unlawfully discriminate against minority voters.
Judge Pulliam’s ruling affirmed “the Elections Clause of the Constitution specifically commits the administration and management of federal legislative elections to the Texas legislative branch.”
“I commend today’s decision for properly recognizing the Texas Legislature’s control over election law,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement following the court’s decision. “Law established by the Legislature must be followed consistently. Upending the procedures established by state and local leaders would have sown chaos and threatened to disenfranchise lawful voters.”
The now-dismissed lawsuit was part of a nationwide litigation strategy by Democrats and their allies on the left to use the courts and fear of the coronavirus to undermine state voting laws, in hopes of gaining an edge in November’s presidential election.
Earlier this year, Mi Familia Vota also launched a $10 million campaign to vote President Donald Trump out of office.
The NAACP has identified Texas as one of 12 “battleground states” for November, and during this summer’s state Democrat convention, Texas NAACP president Gary Bledsoe accused Republicans of using the coronavirus as part of a “voter suppression effort.”
In addition to the MFV/NAACP complaint and the suit to revive rolling polling, in the past year, Democrats have filed a series of mostly losing lawsuits in Texas to salvage straight-party voting; overturn a ballot-order law passed by Democrats; and allow everyone to cast mail ballots, trying their luck with both a state and federal universal vote-by-mail lawsuit.
In June, the U.S. 5th Circuit put a hold on Democrats’ federal vote-by-mail case pending an appeal, saying the coronavirus has not given unelected federal judges “a roving commission to rewrite state election codes.”
Moves by Democrats and their allies to upend Texas election rules in the courts—or ignore the rules altogether—are bound to add confusion to November’s election.
More than ever, citizens have a critical role to play in protecting the integrity of the voting process, by serving on the front lines as poll workers and observers and insisting their state lawmakers and Gov. Abbott make election integrity a priority. Earlier this year, grassroots activists made election integrity the Republican Party of Texas’ top legislative priority for 2021.