With only one member of the court dissenting, the Supreme Court of Texas rejected an attempt by Republicans to stop Democrat-implemented drive-thru voting in Texas’ most populous county.
A motion for a stay on the implementation of curbside voting by Democrat Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins was filed in the Texas Supreme Court by Steve Hotze, the Harris County Republican Party, and others. That motion complemented another lawsuit from the Republican Party of Texas that was originally dismissed by Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals, with the explanation—in part—that voting is already underway.
But despite being populated entirely by Republican justices, the state’s highest civil court sided with Democrats and declined both lawsuits, keeping the program in place.
Only Justice John Devine filed a dissenting opinion, with Justices Eva Guzman and Jeff Boyd listed as “not participating” in the ruling on the Texas GOP’s case.
“It is hard to see how creating a drive-thru voting process is not simply a way to side-step the Legislature’s narrow allowance of curbside voting,” Devine wrote in his dissent. “The Legislature has already spoken on when a person may vote in a vehicle. In fact, the Legislature chose not to expand the groups of persons eligible to vote curbside.”
Just earlier this week, Attorney General Ken Paxton warned local election administrators that legal action could be taken if they operated the drive-thru ballot operation:
[T]he Election Code provides curbside voting as an option only to those who meet a certain, narrow set of criteria. Curbside voting is not, as some have asserted contrary to Texas law, an option for any and all voters who simply wish to vote from the comfort of their cars when they are physically able to enter the polling place. …
The Code makes no provision for polling places located outdoors, in parking lots, or in parking structures. More specifically, the Code makes no provision for “drive-thru” voting centers at which any voter may cast a ballot from his or her vehicle regardless of physical condition.
Democrat Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo was quick to celebrate the court’s ruling, calling it a “victory for democracy.”
Early voting is underway now through October 30. Election Day is November 3.
Devine’s full dissent can be read below: