The Justice Department (DOJ) has filed suit against Texas, alleging its new voting law violates a Voting Rights Act (VRA, a provision that guarantees people can receive assistance while at the voting booth.
The DOJ argued that the law violates the Civil Rights Act because it rejects mail ballots due to ‘immaterial errors or omissions.’
The DOJ’s suit asserts these provisions will disenfranchise voters with limited English proficiency, voters with disabilities, voters in the military who are deployed, as well as American citizens voting abroad.
BREAKING: DOJ files voting rights lawsuit against Texas.— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) November 4, 2021
The court filing insists that the Voting Rights Act guarantees voters who require assistance to vote because of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write may receive assistance from a person of the voter’s choice.
It points out that the Civil Rights Act ensures voters will not be deprived of the right to vote on account of an error or omission on a paper or record that is not material to the voter’s qualifications under State law.
The Texas law established new requirements and possible criminal penalties, stipulating those who assist voters at the polls must fill out new paperwork detailing their relationship to the voter. They must also swear under oath that they did not ‘pressure or coerce’ the voter into choosing them for assistance.
I am waiting for DOJ to sue Delaware, POTUS Biden’s home state, which has zero days of in person early voting to Texas’ 17 days. https://t.co/V7FyDn2J3i— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) November 4, 2021
They must also pledge to limit their assistance to ‘reading the ballot to the voter, directing the voter to read the ballot, marking the voter’s ballot, or directing the voter to mark the ballot.’
The Texas bill also added new restrictions to voting by mail. Now, voters must include their driver’s license number, election identification certificate or the final four digits of their Social Security number and an ‘ink-on-paper’ signature that can be checked against any previous signature on file with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Other provisions not mentioned in the DOJ lawsuit include a ban on unmanned ballot drop boxes and 24-hour and drive-thru voting. Provisions also include: Election Day voting will have set hours from 6 am to 9 pm, there will be a ban on unsolicited mail ballot applications, and the empowerment of partisan poll watchers.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
signed the bill, inciting a national frenzy, after a dramatic standoff with state Democrats. When they fled Texas to deny Republicans quorum to pass the vote, Abbott threatened to have them arrested.
The Justice Department announced it has sued the State of Texas over its restrictive voting law that went into effect in September. https://t.co/eOaNAo7kOC— ABC News (@ABC) November 5, 2021
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced in June that he was doubling the size of the civil rights division in the DOJ to crack down on new voting restrictions in GOP-led states.
‘There are many things open to debate in America, but the right of all eligible citizens to vote is not one of them,’ Garland stated at the time.
Republicans filibustered the John Lewis Voting Rights Act for the fifth time on Wednesday, stopping the bill from moving forward in the legislative process.