Mike Siegel for Congress -- in the May runoff
Pritesh Gandhi, MD for Congress -- in the May runoff
MJ Hegar for Senate
Voter Suppression Efforts in Texas
• Texas: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has postponed Texas' May 26 runoffs until July 14, when voters will pick nominees in a number of high-profile congressional races, among others. Abbott's order did not address the question of expanding voting by mail, which Democrats in the legislature are pushing for but which Republicans oppose. The state Democratic Party has gone to court seeking that all voters be allowed to cast absentee ballots due to the coronavirus; currently, Texas law requires an excuse to vote absentee.
• Texas: The plaintiffs challenging Texas' lack of an online voter registration system for those updating the address on their driver's license online have filed a new lawsuit after their first effort prevailed at the district court level but was overturned by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appeals court had held that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they subsequently were able to re-register by other means and were therefore no longer harmed by the system by the time they filed their suit. Plaintiffs had unable to update their registrations online even though voters updating their licenses in person or by mail are given the opportunity to register, which the district court agreed was a violation of federal law.
To avoid having their case dismissed for lack of standing, these newest plaintiffs (one of whom participated in the first case) have not updated their registrations after moving. The plaintiffs do not plan to remain unregistered throughout the duration of their case, though, particularly with Texas' primaries approaching on March 3.
One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs told the Texas Tribune that she does not believe the 5th Circuit's decision means "that someone has to remain unregistered through the course of the lawsuit" because it "would be in effect telling someone that in order to vindicate their most important constitutional right, they would have to sacrifice that right for years and years."
In a separate effort, Democratic Party organizations are seeking to intervene in and revive the original lawsuit as a way to avoid the possibly lengthy time needed for the newer suit to succeed.
Texas does not permit voters to register online, but the website Vote.org allows applicants to fill out a registration form and then (on its end) automatically prints it and mails it to local election officials. However, the GOP-run secretary of state's office rejected thousands of such applications shortly before the registration deadline in 2018 on the grounds that the signatures were transmitted electronically rather than signed with pen on paper.
Democrats are arguing that these rejections violate both state and federal law. They noted that the secretary of state already allows electronic signatures if they're part of applications when voters register in-person through the state's driver's licensing agency. Texas Republicans have long resisted enacting online registration, making the Lone Star State just one of a handful that don't offer the option. However, if Democrats prevail in this lawsuit, de facto online registration could become an option for thousands of voters through third-party services like Vote.org.
• Texas: State and national Democratic Party organizations have filed a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit over Texas' refusal to offer online voter registration when citizens update their driver's license address online, even though the state provides an opportunity to register for those who update their licenses in person or by mail.
In November, a panel on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district court ruling that deemed this a violation of federal law, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they had subsequently registered successfully and were no longer harmed by the system.
The appeals court, however, didn't rule on the underlying merits of the law and sent the case back to the lower court. The Democratic groups now seeking to intervene are hoping to resolve the standing issue by arguing that their organizations represent members who would likely be harmed by Texas' current system.
• Wisconsin: Amid ongoing litigation over a right-wing group's effort to require Wisconsin to purge roughly 200,000 voter registrations, the state's bipartisan Elections Commission has deadlocked along party lines and will keep those voters on the rolls for now.
This outcome follows a lower court ordering the purge to proceed, but the commission is currently appealing to the state Court of Appeals, while the plaintiffs are asking the conservative-dominated state Supreme Court to take up the case. Expecting a hostile reception in the state courts, the League of Women Voters, a good government group, filed a separate lawsuit last month in federal court to keep the affected voters on the rolls.
At issue in this litigation is a GOP-backed law that requires voter registrations to be purged if voters suspected of moving fail to respond within 30 days to a single mailing. The Elections Commission wants to hold off until 2021 to remove these voters to avoid confusion in this year's elections, but the conservative plaintiffs want the purge to happen swiftly. Opponents have argued that the single mailing sent out to at-risk voters was inadequate and that new notices should be sent to instruct those voters how to stay registered.