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Texas county shuts down nine drive-thru polling sites against courts’ rulings

Both the Texas Supreme Court and federal court denied requests to shut down drive-thru centers and invalidate nearly 127,000 casted votes.

Texas Drive-Thru Voting Go Nakamura/Getty Images

A Texas county shut down nine of 10 drive-thru polling sites against the court’s ruling that they should remain open, Vox reported.

Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins announced that there would only be one drive-thru voting center, noting his concern that votes at the other sites may potentially be thrown out since early voting in Texas was required to take place in “buildings” and not in temporary structures such as tents.

“This evening, Judge Hanen issued his order upholding drive-thru voting during the Early Voting period,” he tweeted. “He also stated his view that the tents that house most of the drive-through voting centers would not qualify as ‘buildings’ which are required for Election Day polling places.”

“My job is to protect the right to vote for all Harris County voters, and that includes those who are going to vote on Election Day. I cannot in good faith encourage voters to cast their votes in tents if that puts their votes at risk,” he continued. “In order to allow for drive-thru voting on Election Day while ensuring that all votes will be counted, the only drive-thru voting center on Election Day will be at Toyota Center.”

Drive-thru voting sites were approved in late August and set up in Harris County so that voters could cast their ballots in a Coronavirus-friendly setting. On Oct. 28, however, in Hotze v. Hollins, Republican candidates for public office and a Republican member of the state legislature filed a lawsuit that sought to invalidate nearly 127,000 votes that were cast at the Harris County drive-thru early voting sites between Oct. 13 and Oct. 30.

The Texas Supreme Court denied their request to shut down sites on Sunday (Nov. 1). The following day, the federal court also ruled against the plaintiffs. It is possible that the Republicans and their lawyers may appeal to the Supreme Court.

There are a few doctrines that prevent plaintiffs who file last minute cases from prevailing in court. Furthermore, the Purcell principle cautions federal courts against changing a state’s election rules days before the election.

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