The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit Thursday against Texas alleging that some of the states controversial new voting restrictions violate federal civil rights laws -- as the Biden administration looks to push back against a wave of voting laws in Republican-controlled states.
On October 13, 2020, a woman uses hand soap while others wait in line for... [+] Austin. Getty Images
The Key Facts
Federal lawsuit targets Senate Bill 1. This bans drive-through and 24-hour voting and prohibits officials from sending unsolicited mail-in applications. Absentee voters must provide identifications, and allows more access to partisan poll-watchers. The DOJ claimed that the Texas governor's law. The DOJ argued that Greg Abbott (R), who signed the law two months ago, could make it more difficult for voters with disabilities to receive the assistance they need at the poll box. This is in violation of the Voting Right Act. Federal government also stated that tighter rules regarding mail-in ballots could result in disenfranchisement for eligible voters. This was based on paper errors or omissions not relevant to their eligibility to vote. It called this a violation of the Civil Rights Act. These sections of law are being challenged by the lawsuit. Forbes reached out to John Scott, Texas Secretary of State, who was listed among the defendants.
According to Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke (who heads the DOJ's Civil Rights Division), laws that restrict eligible citizens' access to the ballot box are not allowed in democracy.
Georgia was also sued by the Biden administration over its June voting law. They claimed that some provisions, including those pertaining to absentee voting, were written with the intention of denying or abrogating the right of voters to vote on the basis of race. The controversial law was signed by Brian Kemp (R), in March.
The Texas Republicans are trying to tighten voting regulations for months. This follows the claims that former President Donald Trump made of widespread vote-rigging during last year's presidential election. Republicans like Abbott believe the law will make voting easier and more secure, but opponents fear it could reduce votes, particularly among those of color and in areas such as Houston, which offers 24-hour voting and drive-through. The Texas state legislature is controlled by Republicans. However, Democratic legislators obstructed the passage of any election laws in Texas for over a month. They staged a dramatic walkout which denied Republican leaders the quorum necessary to hold votes. Mid-August saw enough Democrats return to Austin to allow lawmakers to reach a consensus. A voting bill was quickly passed through the state House of Senate and signed by Abbott within weeks.
What to Watch
Texas is being sued by several advocates and leaders. Voting groups, community groups and officials from Harris County, Houston, filed two federal lawsuits before SB1 was signed. Voto Latino, the NAACP and other groups filed at least three federal and state suits within a few hours after Abbott signed SB1.
The latest legal dispute between President Joe Biden of Texas is the DOJs voting rights lawsuit. The federal government sued Texas over a law banning abortions within six weeks of pregnancy. A federal judge temporarily blocked this law last month but an appeals court stopped that ruling. In July, the administration sued Texas over an executive order issued by Abbott that required state troopers in Texas to pull over vehicles used to transport undocumented immigrants. Texas has sued the Biden administration several times over its immigration policies and environmental policies. A lawsuit was filed just two days after Biden's inauguration, which led to a federal judge stopping his 100-day moratorium for most deportations.