TEXAS

 

Candidates

MJ Hegar for US Senate

Lulu Seikaly for Congress US House of Representatives

Simi Ladjevardian for Congress US House of Representatives

Sri Preston Kulkarni for Congress US House of Representatives

Rick Kennedy for Congress US House of Representatives

Mike Siegel for Congress US House of Representatives

Obama's 2020 Endorsements

Sima Ladjevardian, U.S. House, TX-02

Lizzie Fletcher, U.S. House, TX-07

Adrienne Bell, U.S. House, TX-14

Wendy Davis, U.S. House, TX-21

Sri Preston Kulkarni, U.S. House, TX-22

Gina Ortiz Jones, U.S. House, TX-23

Candace Valenzuela, U.S. House, TX-24

Colin Allred, U.S. House, TX-32

Julie Oliver for Congress US House of Representatives

Donna Imam for Congress US House of Representatives

Wendy Davis for Congress US House of Representatives

Candace Valenzuela for Congress US House of Representatives

NOTES:

  1. TX Voter Registration Deadline is October 3, 30 days before Nov 3, 2020.

  2. Stage 2 -- Excuse required to vote by mail with age waiver

  3. No online registration. Lots of litigation.

FAVORITES:

  1. Act Blue Directory Texas

  2. Vote.org -- Everything about every  state

  3. Movement.vote/groups/ -- Help local, state orgs get out the vote

  4. Votevets.org -- Vets against voter suppression

  5. Votefwd.org -- Most popular way to volunteer to support getting out the vote

  6. VoteSaveAmerica.com -- Adopt a State

Voter Issues

OCTOBER 2020

• Texas: The Texas Supreme Court, which is entirely Republican, has rejected a Republican lawsuit that had sought to block curbside voting in Harris County, the most populous in the state. Meanwhile, a state Court of Appeals panel has upheld a lower court order that blocked GOP Gov. Greg Abbott's order limiting counties to only one location for dropping off mail ballots regardless of population size. Republicans said they would appeal to the state Supreme Court, which would suspend the ruling from going into effect while the appeal is pending.

• Texas: A panel of three GOP-appointed judges on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling that required Texas to adopt a uniform process statewide for giving voters a chance to fix purported problems with their signature on absentee mail ballots. The plaintiffs appeared to concede defeat, saying they would now try to persuade counties to voluntarily change their procedures to avoid disenfranchising voters.

• Texas: Latino voter advocates announced they will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after three Trump-appointed judges on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling that had blocked a limitation on counties having more than one location for returning mail ballots regardless of population size. The 5th Circuit's ruling came down even though federal courts across the country have been blocking efforts to change election rules too close to the election and GOP Gov. Greg Abbott issued the limitation only on Oct. 1.

Regardless of the federal litigation, a separate state lawsuit has seen a lower court block Abbott's limitation on mail ballot return locations, though Republicans quickly vowed to appeal.

In two separate state court lawsuits over voting access, the first saw the all-GOP state Supreme Court reject right-wing activists’ challenge to Abbott's order extending early voting by six days, leading to it beginning this week. In the second case, a panel on the state Court of Appeals has rejected the state GOP's request to ban curbside voting in Harris County, which is home to Houston and is the state's most populous at 4.7 million people, but the state Republican Party will appeal to Texas' high court.

• Texas: Texas' all-Republican state Supreme Court has issued a ruling blocking officials in Harris County, the state's largest, from sending mail ballot applications to all 2.4 million registered voters. The court ruled that the county couldn't mail applications to those beyond just voters age 65 and up, who had already been sent an application and are the only ones allowed to vote by mail without a non-COVID excuse.

Meanwhile, voting rights advocates have filed a second federal lawsuit and a new state-level lawsuit over GOP Gov. Greg Abbott's recent order prohibiting counties from setting up more than one drop box to receive mail ballots. That decision may make it disproportionately harder for Democrats and voters of color to vote since they are heavily concentrated in a handful of massively populated counties such as Harris; Texas' smaller counties are overall much whiter and more Republican. Plaintiffs argue that the order violates equal protection and the state constitution's right-to-vote guarantee.

On Thursday, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that prohibited Texas' 254 counties from setting up more than one location for voters to drop off their absentee mail ballots regardless of population size, sparking a firestorm of condemnation and drawing a federal lawsuit from voting rights advocates seeking to block the move for discriminating against voters of color. With the Trump administration attempting to sabotage postal delivery and causing delays that risk ballots not arriving on time, in-person dropoff locations are a key alternative for ensuring mail ballots count.

Abbott's move is a thinly veiled attack on voting access for the state's rapidly growing Black, Latino, and Asian American populations and the Democrats they support, since those groups are largely concentrated in just a handful of massively populated counties. Harris County (home to Houston) alone has nearly 5 million residents and would have only one location in a jurisdiction roughly the size of Delaware, and together with several other counties with populations over 1 million containing cities such as Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, they hold a disproportionate share of the state's Democrats and voters of color.

By contrast, well over one hundred of the state's smallest counties have electorates that are overwhelmingly white and therefore strongly Republican, leading to vast partisan and racial disparities in the number of dropoff locations per capita—though this order will require GOP voters in sprawling rural counties to also travel larger distances to drop off their mail ballots if they vote that way. However, because Democrats may be much likelier to vote by mail thanks to Trump's demagoguery discouraging Republicans from doing so, Democrats will likely face much more difficulty than Republicans with casting their ballots thanks to this order.

Texas has been ground zero for voter suppression in 2020 just as it finally becomes a key battleground state for the first time in decades, and Democrats have a critical chance to flip the state House this fall and block Republicans from passing the most important congressional gerrymander of any state after the 2020 census. Republicans have so far successfully fought back lawsuits and preserved a requirement that voters under age 65 have a non-COVID excuse to vote by mail—elderly voters, of course, are much whiter and therefore more conservative than the electorate overall.

Houston and Harris County have been the focus of much of the GOP's efforts to restrict voting, and a state appeals court has rejected a separate GOP challenge to a plan by officials there to send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters. However, the county remains barred from mailing out ballots due to an earlier preliminary ruling by the Texas Supreme Court. A final ruling from the high court is expected soon.

Relatedly, Republican activists have filed an additional lawsuit asking the all-Republican state Supreme Court to limit in-person voting in Harris County by shortening the start of early voting from Oct. 13 to Oct. 19, even though Abbott himself had added the additional six days of early voting statewide, and they want to bar the county from accepting mail ballots in-person before Election Day instead of throughout the early voting period as is currently allowed. These same activists are also challenging Abbott's early voting order in a case that was filed last month and is pending before the state high court.

• Texas: The conservative-dominated 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed a recent lower court ruling that would have blocked the GOP's repeal of the straight-ticket voting option for November, dealing a blow to voting access for Black and Latino voters, who are disproportionately likely to use the option, since the lack of the option means it will take much longer to fill out Texas' unusually long ballot and thus exacerbate voting lines.

SEPTEMBER 2020

 

• Texas: Officials in Bexar County, a Democratic-leaning county of 2 million people that is home to San Antonio, will mail absentee applications to all voters aged 65 and older, who are the only demographic group allowed to vote by mail without needing a specific excuse (though litigation to let everyone vote by mail is ongoing). The mailings will go out to roughly 150,000 voters.

 

This move comes on the heels of the state Supreme Court temporarily blocking populous Harris County from mailing applications to voters of all ages, and it's possible that state Republicans will similarly sue to stop this move by Bexar County officials, though older voters in Texas typically lean much more Republican than younger ones do.

• Texas: Texas' all-Republican Supreme Court has issued a short-term stay temporarily blocking Democratic officials in Harris County, the state's most populous, from sending unsolicited absentee mail ballot applications to all 2.4 million voters this fall until a lower court decides whether to more permanently prohibit it. Texas law requires voters to have an excuse to vote by mail unless they're 65 or older, and Republican state Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a separate lawsuit in state court yesterday, prompting Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins to announce he would only send applications to voters aged 65 and up pending the outcome of the litigation, which the Supreme Court stay now prohibits.

AUGUST 2020

• Texas: Republican state Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to stop officials in Harris County, which is home to Houston and is Texas' largest county, from mailing applications for absentee mail ballots to all 2.4 million registered voters for November. Paxton's lawsuit claims the county lacks the authority to do so and notes that many voters aren't even eligible to vote by mail under state law, which requires an excuse for voters under age 65 (though litigation over that requirement is ongoing). However, local officials in parts of the state have said during the pandemic that they cannot legally determine whether voters claiming a "disability" excuse were being truthful or not.

• Texas: Republican state House nominee Bryan Slaton and several GOP voters have filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to reverse Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order extending the early voting period by one week, claiming Abbott lacks the authority to order such an extension without legislative approval.

 

• Texas: A federal court has rejected the GOP's motion to dismiss a pair of Democratic-backed lawsuits challenging a 2019 law Republicans enacted to ban mobile voting locations that operate in a given location for only part of the early voting period. The law in question requires that all polling places be open for the entire early voting period, but because this puts additional burdens on county election officials' resources, many localities have opted not to operate so-called "mobile" polling places altogether.

Democrats argue that the law discriminates against seniors, young voters, voters with disabilities, and those who lack transportation access in violation of the First, 14th, and 26th Amendments.

JULY 2020

• Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia: Florida's GOP Secretary of State Laurel Lee has reached an agreement with advocates for blind voters in a federal lawsuit that will require Miami-Dade, Nassau, Orange, Pinellas, and Volusia Counties, which are home to one-fourth of Florida's registered voters, to protect visually impaired voters' right to vote a secret ballot. Such voters will be able to obtain their ballots electronically and fill them out using special software before printing them out and mailing them in, a system that is already available to military and overseas voters. Florida also agreed to implement the same system statewide by 2022.

Meanwhile, blind voters have also filed federal lawsuits in North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia challenging absentee voting inaccessibility in those states and seeking remedies similar to the one agreed to in Florida. Advocates for blind voters have met success in court in several other states since the start of the pandemic.

Texas: A federal judge has rejected Republican Secretary of State Ruth Hughs' motion to dismiss a case brought by several Texas voters and civil rights organizations seeking to expand access to absentee voting for the November general election.

Plaintiffs are asking the court to order the state to prepay the cost of postage; require officials to count ballots postmarked by Election Day and received within a few days afterward (currently, they must be received by the day after the election); prevent the state from using arbitrary standards to reject absentee ballots for allegedly non-matching signatures without giving voters a chance to fix any problems; and allow a third parties to collect and turn in completed absentee ballots.

Based on a schedule the judge previously set out, a ruling on plaintiffs' requests is not likely until after Labor Day.

• Texas: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has added six days of early voting ahead of the November general election, meaning that the early voting period, which was slated to begin on Oct. 19, will instead run from Oct. 13 through Oct. 30. Texas, however, still does not permit all voters to request absentee ballots, prompting the state Democratic Party to call Abbott's move "the bare minimum."

• Texas: The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed with state Democrats' request to expedite consideration of the GOP's appeal of a lower court ruling that had ordered that all voters be allowed to vote absentee without needing an excuse instead of only voters aged 65 and up. The expedited timeline means there's a chance of a resolution in time for November.

 

• Texas: A federal district court has rejected a Republican motion to dismiss a Democratic-backed lawsuit seeking to require that Texas allow voters to register online via a third-party website. The case concerns the website Vote.org, which 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 argue that these rejections violate both state and federal law. They note 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 online registration, making it one of just a handful of states that doesn't offer it to most voters. As a result, the Lone Star State is home to a majority of the Americans who live in states without full online registration.

MAY 2020

 

• Texas: The NAACP and other civil rights advocates in conjunction with national Democrats have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to expand access to absentee mail voting. Plaintiffs request that the court order the state to prepay the cost of postage, extend the deadline by which ballots that have been postmarked by Election Day must be received by officials from one day after Election Day to no later than the date that election officials canvass the votes, prevent the state from using arbitrary standards to reject absentee ballots for supposedly non-matching signatures without giving voters a chance to fix the problem, and allow a third party to collect and turn in completed absentee ballots.

Separate lawsuits (one at the state level and one at the federal level) that had been previously filed are challenging Texas' requirement that voters under age 65 provide a specific excuse to be able to vote absentee by mail. The state-level case saw a lower court block officials from enforcing the requirement for the July 14 primary runoff, although Republicans are appealing that ruling.

APRIL 2020

  • Bottom line: Democrats can shrink Republicans’ majority on the Texas Supreme Court to one seat

  • Composition: 9 Republicans

  • 2020 elections: 4 seats up (partisan)

    • Republican Justice Jeffrey Boyd, appointed in 2012 by ex-Gov. Rick Perry (R), faces Democratic Dallas County District Court Judge Staci Williams

    • Republican Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, appointed in 2013 by ex-Gov. Rick Perry (R), faces Democratic Travis County District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum

    • Republican Justice Brett Busby, appointed in 2019 by Gov. Greg Abbott (R), faces Democratic Court of Appeals Judge Gisela Triana

    • Republican Justice Jane Bland, appointed in 2019 by Gov. Greg Abbott (R), faces Democratic attorney Kathy Cheng

While Democrats can’t gain control over the Texas Supreme Court this fall, they can do a lot of damage: If they run the table, the GOP’s majority would shrink from 9-0 to just 5-4. That would put them in position to flip the court as soon as 2022.

Winning a majority in Texas would be critical for stopping Republican gerrymandering. Even if the GOP retains control over redistricting following the 2020 census, the courts could step in after the fact to order fairer lines be drawn. The impact could be huge: Texas is poised to gain three seats in Congress, giving it 39 in total. More equitable maps could allow Democrats to gain a number of seats. The same would be true for the legislature, particularly given the trends that are turning the state blue.

• Texas: Texas Democrats have filed a second lawsuit, this time in federal court, asking that a judge loosen the requirements for requesting an absentee ballot. This suit argues that the state's refusal to allow most voters under the age of 65 to vote by mail violates their rights under the Constitution. The earlier case, which was brought in a state court, makes similar arguments in regard to state law. A hearing is scheduled in the state case for April 15.

 

• Texas: Texas' secretary of state's office has taken a small step toward expanding access to mail voting by advising county election officials that voters may request an absentee ballot if they have any condition that precludes them from voting in-person "without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter's health." If officials are lenient, that provision of law could allow voters concerned about the coronavirus to obtain absentee ballots. Texas Democrats filed a lawsuit last month asking that all voters be allowed to vote absentee for this reason.

The office's new letter, from Director of Elections Keith Ingram, also suggests that county officials seek court orders to allow expanded mail voting options for "those affected by quarantines." However, as the Houston Chronicle notes, the secretary of state's guidance is not mandatory, only advisory.

MARCH 2020

 

• 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.

JANUARY  2020

• 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.

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Texas: National and state Democrats have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block Texas' process for rejecting signatures on voter registration applications.

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.

©BOOMERS FOR DEMOCRACY