Biden administration sues Texas over new voting restrictions
AUSTIN, Texas – The Biden administration on Thursday sued Texas over new voting rules that survived a summer of dramatic protests from Democrats, who face faint hopes of revising the country’s election laws in response to a wave new restrictions in Republican-led states.
The trial does not go after the entirety of a radical measure signed in September by Republican Governor Greg Abbott in Texas, which already has some of the toughest voting rules in the country. Instead, the challenge filed in federal court in San Antonio targets provisions regarding postal voting requirements and voter assistance, which the Justice Department says violate federal civil rights protections.
He’s now putting two of Texas GOP’s biggest Tory wins this year in court against the federal government, like the Justice Department simultaneously tries to stop a new Texas law that has banned most abortions since September.
Georgia’s new election laws were also on trial this summer by the Biden administration, which is under pressure from the Democratic base to take more action on voting rights, a top priority. for the party ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. Time is running out and Senate Republicans have repeatedly blocked federal legislation to change election laws, including another attempt on Wednesday.
“Our democracy depends on the right of eligible voters to vote and to have that ballot count,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “The Department of Justice will continue to use all the authorities at its disposal to protect this fundamental pillar of our society. “
Opponents of the Texas law known as Senate Bill 1 had already sued the state, accusing Republicans of wanting to deprive minorities of the right to vote and other voters of Democratic leanings.
Abbott and other Texas Republicans say the changes offer guarantees against voter fraud, which is rare.
“Biden comes after Texas for SB1, our recently enacted Election Integrity Act,” Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted. “This is a great bill that we badly need. Ensuring that Texas has safe, secure and transparent elections is a priority for me. I’ll see you in court, Biden!
Under the new Texas law, people who help voters who need help filling out their ballots must take a longer oath that now includes recognition of a penalty of perjury. It also removes the old language regarding responses to voters’ questions, which opponents say will hurt voters with disabilities.
Mail-in ballots must also now include a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a social security number, which the Justice Department says increases the chances that the ballots will be incorrectly rejected and exclude certain eligible voters.
The law also bans 24-hour polling stations and drive-thru voting, which are not challenged in the Justice Department’s lawsuit.
Texas legislation sparked a summer of Democrats walkouts, for which Republicans threatened them with arrest, and Abbott vetoed the paychecks of thousands of core staff when the bill failed him. not arrived earlier. At one point, more than 50 Democratic lawmakers decamped into Washington, brutally shutting down the Texas Capitol for 38 days.
Texas Democrats had hoped the bet would pressure Congress to pass new voting rights protections at the federal level, but those efforts have repeatedly stalled. GOP senators oppose Democratic voting bills as a “takeover”.
Texas is one of at least 18 states that have adopted new voting restrictions since the 2020 election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. The laws are part of a national GOP campaign, including in Florida, Georgia and Arizona, to tighten voting laws in the name of security, in part because of false claims by former President Donald Trump according to which the elections were stolen.
Trump asked Abbott to verify the results of the Texas election even though he won the state. Last month Abbott appointed a new chief of state elections, attorney John Scott, who briefly joined Trump’s legal team last year as he challenged the 2020 results.