A federal judge in Texas on Monday threw out a Republican-led challenge to Democrat-leaning Harris County’s “drive-through” polling places, saying the Republicans lacked standing. The result, for now, is that over 127,000 ballots cast in that way will be counted. However, the ballots are being “segregated” and the decision is certain to be appealed, so they could still be thrown out if the appeal goes the GOP’s way.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen on Monday heard arguments about whether to invalidate the votes cast in the Democratic-leaning county—after Republican activists argued that state law does not allow for drive-thru voting. “If the legislature chose to do that, they could have, but they didn’t,” Jared Woodfill, an attorney representing the activists, argued Monday. “Not an individual clerk that makes up his own mind.” In response, representatives for the county said invalidating the votes just one day before the 2020 election would cause injury to the voters who simply used one of several special accommodations created amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Plaintiffs argue that drive-thru voting would result in fraud and corruption,” Christina Ford, who is representing the Democratic parties who intervened in the case, said Monday. “There’s no evidence of that.” Ultimately, Hanen ruled the plaintiffs did not have the standing to invalidate the drive-thru votes. “I’m not happy with that finding. But the way I look at it, the law requires it,” the judge said. The ruling comes just one day after the Texas Supreme Court denied a similar petition on drive-thru ballots.