Voters waiting in line to cast their ballots at Lion's Field in San Antonio.
A federal judge in San Antonio will hear arguments Monday in a consolidated lawsuit seeking to overturn a controversial 2021 law that significantly tightened voting restrictions in Texas.
More than 20 organizations ranging from the League of Women Voters of Texas to the Southwest Voter Education Project, are challenging Senate Bill 1, arguing that the state law intentionally suppresses the votes of people of color, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups. The suit consolidates five separate legal challenges to the law.
Republicans in the Texas Legislature pushed through SB 1 over the objections of the minority party, who argued that its restrictions on voting by mail, 24-hour voting and ballot drop boxes are attempts to suppress turnout among Democratic-leaning voters. The law also eliminated requirements that businesses let employees take time off to vote, and it expanded the role of partisan poll watchers.
Democrats ground debate on the legislation to a halt by flying to Washington, D.C., and breaking quorum. However, the bill ultimately passed, and Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law
While GOP lawmakers defended the bill as an effort to increase voting security, critics pointed out that Texas — in addition to having a long history of voter suppression
— already has some of the nation's most-restrictive poll laws
“Over the next few weeks, we will hear from voters and leaders of Texas voting rights organizations about the barriers the state’s anti-voting law has created for so many of us — whether voters of color, elderly voters, or voters with disabilities,” Savannah Kumar, an attorney for the ACLU of Texas — one of the groups bringing the suit on the clients' behalf — said in an emailed statement.
“This anti-democratic law has criminalized civic participation in communities across the state. We look forward to proving in court that this voter suppression law should be struck down.”
The trial is expected to run into late October, and it may take U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez additional weeks or months to render a verdict, according to the Texas Tribune. It's also unclear whether a decision in the case would affect 2024 elections in Texas, especially since the state is likely to appeal a decision that strikes down sections of the bill.
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