U.S. Justice Department sues Texas over new voting law

click to enlarge The law, known as Senate Bill 1, further tightens state election laws and constrains local control of elections by limiting counties’ ability to expand voting options. - TEXAS TRIBUNE / CHARLIE PEARCE
Texas Tribune / Charlie Pearce
The law, known as Senate Bill 1, further tightens state election laws and constrains local control of elections by limiting counties’ ability to expand voting options.

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing Texas over the state's new voting law, arguing that the some measures passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature earlier this year would "disenfranchise eligible Texas citizens who seek to exercise their right to vote."

The Texas voting law, known as Senate Bill 1 and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in September, makes a host of changes that further tighten the state's election laws, such as banning drive-thru voting and setting new rules for voting by mail. The Justice Department is focusing its suit on two provisions of the new law: one related to assistance in voting boots and another related to the rejection of mail-in ballots.

"These vulnerable voters already confront barriers to the ballot box, and SB 1 will exacerbate the challenges they face in exercising their fundamental right to vote," the suit argues, saying that the law would negatively impact voters with disabilities, elderly voters, members of the military who are deployed, voters with limited English proficiency and voters residing outside of the country.

The law, set to take effect in time for the 2022 primary elections, has already faced legal challenges that generally argue it will disproportionately impact voters of colors and voters with disabilities. Those challenges, along with Thursday's lawsuit, could delay the implementation of the new state law.

After the suit was filed Thursday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton defended the new law, calling is "a great and much-needed bill."

"Ensuring Texas has safe, secure, and transparent elections is a top priority of mine," Paxton tweeted. "I will see you in court, Biden!"

This is a developing story and will continue to be updated.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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