Breaking: Federal court throws out Republican case to invalidate 127,000 votes

by | Nov 2, 2020 | Policy, Voting

A federal district court dismissed Republican litigation on Monday that sought to invalidate more than 127,000 Harris County votes cast through curbside voting locations.

Judge Andrew Hanen said Republicans did not have standing.

The Texas Supreme Court tossed out similar litigation last week, but Democrats and civil rights groups were still concerned that the district court and its Bush-appointed conservative judge would rule differently on Monday, threatening tens of thousands of votes in the state’s most populated county already cast at drive-thru voting location.

If the judge had ruled differently, those ballots would have been thrown out and voters would have had to return to the polls on Election Day.

The lawsuit was filed by rightwing activist Steve Hotze, Republican candidate for judge Sharon Hemphill, and Tea Party state Rep. Steve Toth. It argued that Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins was promoting a form of voting not recognized by state or federal election law. The lawsuit also argued that curb-side voting invited corruption and voter fraud.

There is no evidence of widespread or systemic voter fraud in Texas or the U.S.

In a statement reacting to the ruling, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa called the lawsuit “shameful.” 

“The ruling to let the nearly 127,000 drive-thru votes stand was the correct decision but it doesn’t change a simple fact: This should have never been an issue in the first place,” Hinojosa said. “Texans who lawfully voted at drive through locations should have never had to fear that their votes wouldn’t be counted and their voices wouldn’t be heard. This lawsuit was shameful and it should have never seen the light of day.”

Despite the repeated legal attacks by Texas Republicans to suppress the vote in major metro areas using frivolous litigation or the tools of the state (Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have successfully prevented a mail ballot expansion effort in Harris County and also managed to reduce physical mail ballot drop off locations) — turnout in Texas is seeing record-breaking numbers. More than 9.7 million Texans have already cast their vote through the mail or in-person early voting, surpassing the total turnout in 2016 before Election Day.

It’s not yet clear who that extreme turnout is benefiting yet, but there are signs Democrats have the momentum, including recent polling and stagnant Republican turnout in past elections.

Photo: SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at

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