A last-ditch effort to throw out more than 127,000 votes cast at Harris County drive-thru ballot sites will be heard by a federal judge Monday morning (Nov. 2), while attorneys rush to get drive-thru voters to sign on as parties in the case. A group of moderate Republicans — including State Rep. Sarah Davis, who represents Bellaire and West U — were seeking to file an amicus brief to protect the votes.
Three state Republican candidates for office and ultraconservative GOP activist Steven Hotze want the judge to prevent drive-thru balloting on Election Day Tuesday and to invalidate ballots cast at 10 locations countywide during the three-week early voting period.
The case will be heard beginning at 10:30 a.m. by U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, appointed by George W. Bush and dubbed by liberal Slate Magazine as “one of the most notoriously partisan conservatives in the federal judiciary.”
On Sunday, the Texas Supreme Court turned down a petition from the same plaintiffs to block the drive-thru votes from being counted. The lawsuits argue that drive-thru voting is unconstitutional because such a decision should be made through the state legislature and not by local officials, and that it denies equal Constitutional protection because not all counties have adopted the method.
Anyone who voted at one of the drive-thru locations can file to become an intervening defendant in the case by filling out the online form here.
State Rep. Davis (R-Dist. 134) was seeking to sign a legal amicus brief sponsored by former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus that asks the judge to uphold the drive-thru votes. Earlier, she termed the state Supreme Court decision denying the GOP challenge “Great news!”
Harris County has become the largest stronghold for Democrats in Texas and has had to work around a number of Republican challenges to efforts to expand safe voting options during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The drive-thru voting had been piloted at a single location — Houston Community College’s West Loop campus adjacent to Bellaire — in the spring primary runoff. It proved successful enough to refine and expand, and the HCC location proved a popular site for local voters.