Texas Supreme Court denies GOP-led petition seeking to invalidate 120,000 votes in Houston area

This is the second time in recent weeks the all-Republican Supreme Court in Texas has blocked attempts to dismantle drive-thru voting there. The court did not issue an opinion with the ruling.

The petition was filed last week and argued that drive-thru voting violated federal law.

Jared Woodfill, a Houston lawyer representing the plaintiffs, argued that Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins was acting on his own by implementing the practice of drive-thru voting.

“The goal is not ultimately to have (the votes) invalidated. It’s to have them cast right,” Woodfill told CNN in an interview Sunday before the state Supreme Court decision was released.

Hollins, meanwhile, has staunchly defended the practice of drive-thru voting, calling it a safe and legal option amid the pandemic that’s been repeatedly backed by the courts and election officials.

“We know that the law is on our side,” he told CNN moments after the Supreme Court issued its ruling. “We know that we should be protecting these votes, making sure that all of our residents here can have their voice heard, can have their say in our democracy.”

Ten of Harris County’s 120 early voting sites are drive-thru locations. As of Friday, nearly 127,000 votes had been cast at those sites, marking roughly 10% of the votes cast in person during the early voting period.

While curbside voting in Harris County is limited to voters with a disability and located at all polling sites, the drive-thru voting locations are open to all voters.

The latest state and federal challenges argue that drive-thru voting violates the US Constitution, which says state legislatures decide how elections are run. The plaintiffs also argued it violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, in that the county is adopting a manner of voting that has not been adopted by other Texas counties.

Republican State Rep. Steve Toth, who’s listed on the petition as a plaintiff and who’s running for reelection, argued it’s the job of the state legislature — not local counties — to implement changes such as drive-thru voting. He also criticized the state Supreme Court’s decision last week. He represents South Montgomery County, just north of Harris County.

This story and headline have been updated with additional information and reaction.

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