Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a massive voter suppression bill into law Tuesday. It’s one more addition to the wave of voting restrictions being enacted across the country in response to former President Trump’s Big Lie of a stolen election.
Senate Bill 1 makes it harder for voters with disabilities or language-access barriers to get assistance. It also makes it easier for poll watchers to harass voters and election officials. And, it bans 24-hour and drive-thru voting, measures enacted to make it safer and easier to vote during the pandemic, which continues to be especially bad in Texas.
Last week, before Abbott even had a chance to sign the bill, we filed a federal lawsuit to stop the worst provisions, working with our co-counsel at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the Harris County Attorney’s Office, and the law firms of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP.
Our lawsuit lays out how the law violates the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Voting Rights Act. Texas’s attack on voting rights is blatantly unlawful and pointlessly cruel.
Abbott and the Republican state lawmakers responsible for this travesty claim it’s all about “election integrity.” But this whopper doesn’t hold up to any sort of scrutiny. Like everywhere else in the country, there is absolutely no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Abbott knows this. His own attorney general spent 22,000 hours looking for fraud. What did he find? Sixteen cases of false addresses on registration forms in a pool of nearly 17 million registered voters. Then his own secretary of state’s office told Republican lawmakers what they didn’t want to hear: “Texas had an election that was smooth and secure.”
We’re representing a wide range of plaintiffs, including the interfaith advocacy organization Texas Impact, the Austin chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, and Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria. This group represents the diverse array of Texans whose voice the state is trying to silence, all of them united in defending democracy in the Lone Star State.
Texas was already among the states that made it hardest to vote in this country, and this latest attack on voting access brings it closer to the bottom of the heap. As the next election draws near, there’s no time to waste. Congress must listen to Texas Democrats, and other defenders of the American people’s hard-fought right to vote, and pass the For the People Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
The bills, both of which have passed the House, are a one-two punch against voter suppression and would stop the worst restrictions from being implemented before the next slate of federal elections.