Nearly 127,000 Harris County, Texas residents used 10 drive-thru polling stops rather than traditional sites to vote early. Now those votes are at risk of being tossed after four Republicans, including conservative activist Steven Hotze, filed a pair of suits to invalidate the ballots. Hotze is an active GOP donor and a fierce opponent of same-sex marriage who was a key player in the failed 2017 “bathroom bill” to block transgender Texans from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity. He has filed dozens of lawsuits to overturn Governor Greg Abbott’s COVID-19 restrictions in addition to the latest to block Harris County drive-thru voters. If the Republicans win, the voters will have to go back to the polling stations on election day. The Republican-led legal move could jeopardize 10 percent of the record early vote count in the mostly-Democratic county.
Meanwhile some fellow Republicans are slamming the effort to invalidate the drive-through ballots. Former Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus—the longest-serving Republican speaker in Texas history—tweeted on Sunday, “the lawsuit attempting to disenfranchise more than 100,000 voters in Harris County is patently wrong. All of us who believe in the core ideals of this country should want more votes counted and more voices heard. While it may be too late for this election, the Republican Party needs to return to a place where we win with ideas and persuasion rather than trying to intimidate and silence our fellow citizens. I hope all elected statewide leaders in the Texas Republican Party will stand up against these desperate tactics.”
On Sunday, the Texas Supreme Court rejected Hotze’s suit to toss the Harris County ballots, leaving the suit in federal court as the Republican’s last-ditch effort. It will go in front of a judge on Monday morning.