​Texas Republicans Just Can't Stop Ratf*cking The Election

Voter turnout in Texas this year is insane.

As of two days ago, there were already more ballots cast in Texas than were cast in 2016. And I'm not just talking about early voting! Texas has entirely exceeded its 2016 turnout.

One would think that this would be cause for celebration. How great that so many Texans are exercising their constitutional rights! But, of course, there's nothing the GOP loves more than ratfucking. And so, after record turnout all around the state, a bunch of Republican assholes are trying to get 127,000 ballots that were legally cast thrown out.

The huge turnout in Texas this year is part of the reason the state may be in play for Democrats. Since 2016, the state Democratic Party — and Beto O'Rourke, specifically — have done an amazing job registering new voters. And once voters are registered, it becomes a lot easier to engage with them and get them to the polls.

More good news for Democrats is that the state's left-leaning areas are among those seeing huge turnout. One of those places is Harris County, where Houston is located.

During the state's 18-day early voting period, hundreds of thousands of people showed up to the polls. Close to 127,000 of those people cast their ballots at drive-thru polling places, set up for convenience and also to stop the spread of that deadly virus that's still spreading like wildfire. Harris County Clerk Chris Collins (whose staff, we might add, has being doing an excellent job making voting fun) has already seen 1.4 million votes cast in his jurisdiction.

Now, nearly 130,000 of those votes may be in jeopardy.

Four Republicans have filed a lawsuit, styled Hotze v. Hollins, seeking to get all of the ballots cast at Harris County's drive-thru polling places thrown out. The plaintiffs are Steven Hotze, an anti-LGBTQ bigot who runs a hate group, is a COVID and QAnon conspiracy theorist, has repeatedly tried to challenge Governor Greg Abbott's COVID-19 restrictions and told Abbott's chief of staff to murder Black Lives Matter protesters; state representative Steve Toth, an anti-woman extremist who just really, really loves guns; congressional candidate and cop Wendell Champion, challenging Sheila Jackson Lee; and judicial candidate Sharon Hemphill, who lost judicial elections in Harris County in 2018, 2016, and 2012.

The four anti-voting rights crusaders argue that Harris County's drive-thru voting locations are illegal because they expanded curbside voting. Even the entirely Republican Texas Supreme Court has already shot down these arguments. But, with a fascist majority now on the US Supreme Court, they've decided to try their luck with the federal court system. And, just to make it totally clear that their goal is to disenfranchise Harris County voters, they aren't merely asking for the drive-thru polling locations to be closed — they're trying to get nearly 130,000 legally cast ballots thrown out.

Voters who used the drive-thru locations were subject to the exact same registration and verification requirements as other voters. They cast their ballots in compliance with state and federal law, using a program set up by their county's chief election officer. The state supreme court and secretary of state's office already approved it. But sure, let's just do everything we can to try to disenfranchise voters in the state's most populous county.

This is yet another bald-faced attempt by Republican operatives to fix the vote. All over the country, members of the GOP are filing lawsuits trying to get ballots thrown out. Because why give two fucks about the will of the people when you can cheat?

The lawsuit alleges that drive-up voting is unconstitutional — and truly, the argument is fucking batshit. The claim is that the votes were unconstitutionally cast because county officials charged with ensuring a free and fair election in their jurisdiction really should have no power at all. That is, of course, not at all the law in this country, but when have Republicans given two shits about that? And now that they know they have a SCOTUS full of right-wing psychos amenable to their bullshit, they're just giving it their all.

For his part, the Harris County clerk has vowed to fight the good fight and do whatever he can to ensure people's votes are counted.

Unfortunately, the ratfuckers have drawn Judge Andrew Hanen, a notoriously partisan George W. Bush appointee. And, rather than laugh the plaintiffs out of his courtroom, Judge Hanen immediately scheduled a hearing for Monday morning — without even letting Harris County respond. And no matter how Hanen rules, the case is sure to be immediately appealed to the Fifth Circuit, a terrible court full of terrible people who really hate voting rights. Not to mention the abject terror that comes to mind when thinking about the new makeup of the US Supreme Court.

If the nearly 130,000 votes are, in fact, thrown out, it seems nearly impossible that all of those people would be able to vote again on Election Day. People have lives and jobs and obligations. Not to mention the fact that most citizens aren't exactly as civically engaged as you Wonkers.

It's all bad. All we can do now is vote hope that this is a bridge too far, even for these absolute fucking fascists on the bench.

We have until Tuesday night to make sure we GET OUT THE VOTE. Resist, persist, and help as many people get to the polls as you possibly can.

Voting Black Lives Matter GIF by Creative Courage

Here's the complaint. It sucks.

[ Texas Tribune / Slate ]

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Jamie Lynn Crofts
Jamie Lynn Crofts is sick of your bullshit. When she’s not wrangling cats, she’s probably writing about nerdy legal stuff, rocking out at karaoke, or tweeting about god knows what. Jamie would kindly like to remind everyone that it’s perfectly legal to tell Bob Murray to eat shit.

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