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A federal judge in Texas just dashed Republican hopes of throwing out 127,000 ballots cast in drive-through polling places.
Federal district Judge Andrew S. Hanen ruled the plaintiffs don’t have standing to challenge drive-through voting, effectively siding with the County Clerk who established the sites to make voting safer during the pandemic.
The last-minute Republican defeat follows a similar ruling in state court on Sunday. An appeal is still possible, however.
The Texas legal dispute has the potential disenfranchise thousands of voters in one of the most hotly contested states of the 2020 campaign, could make the all-important difference between victory for President Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden if the result comes down to a tight vote tally in Texas.
While plenty of legal experts had dismissed the substance of the lawsuit, some observers wondered whether the famously conservative judge Hanen might prove receptive to the GOP activists’ arguments. In the end, however, he left them disappointed.
“A lot of people would say, ‘Gee, if I had known there was a question about voting drive-in, I would have parked my car and walked to the polls,’” Hanen told the court, according to CNN.
The attempt to toss over 100,000 ballots in the key battleground state of Texas comes against a backdrop of widespread attempts by pro-GOP legal forces to limit the ways people can vote and the leeway state officials have to count ballots.
Republicans have fought hard in states across the country to disallow expansions to voter access arising due to the pandemic and to disqualify mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day.
Now, judicial rulings are coming in fast and heavy, days or even just hours before Election Day officially kicks off. Experts on electoral law worry that a close vote in a crucial state will unleash a tsunami of litigation over which votes can be counted, recalling the controversial recount in Florida in the year 2000.