Election Law

DOJ suit claims voting law in Texas harms those who need ballot assistance, seek mail-in ballots

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The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Texas on Thursday that challenges provisions of its new voting law.

The suit contends that the law will deny disabled or limited-English voters “meaningful assistance” in the voting booth and will require rejection of mail-in ballots for “immaterial errors or omissions.”

The lawsuit alleges violations of Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act, which governs voter assistance, and Section 101 of the Civil Rights Act, which bars denial of the right to vote based on immaterial errors or omissions in paperwork. A DOJ release is here.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 1 into law in September. It bans people who provide assistance in a voting booth from answering voters’ questions, from responding to requests to clarify ballot translations, and from confirming that voters with visual impairments have marked a ballot as intended, the suit says.

The law also requires voters’ mail-in ballots to use the same identification number as the one on their application for voter registration. The number may be from a driver’s license, an election identification certificate or a personal ID issued by the state.

The lawsuit doesn’t challenge other provisions of the law that ban county officials from distributing unsolicited vote-by-mail applications, ban drive-thru and overnight voting, and provide for “free movement” of poll watchers.

The lawsuit is the second this year in which the DOJ challenged a state voting law, Law.com reports. The government filed a suit against Georgia in June contending that its law denies or abridges the right to vote on account of race.

Courthouse News Service, the New York Times and the Washington Post also have coverage of the Texas lawsuit.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Lawsuits challenging new voting restrictions in Texas cite these constitutional protections”

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