United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
In September, voting rights groups and other individuals and organizations brought five separate cases against the state of Texas in federal court, and one case in state court, challenging SB1 provisions that plaintiffs alleged will:
- Limit early voting hours, as well as assistance at the polls for those with disabilities or limited language proficiency;
- Effectively eliminate ballot drop boxes, drive-through voting and large voting centers;
- Restrict election officials from soliciting mail-in ballot applications; and
- Impair the ability of election officials to effectively manage poll watchers to ensure orderly voting without intimidation.
In addition to naming Governor Abbott, Acting Secretary of State Esparza (now Secretary of State Scott) and Attorney General Paxton as defendants, plaintiffs also sued a handful of county election administrators who run elections in Texas.
States United is representing defendant Lisa Wise, El Paso County’s Election Administrator, as pro-bono co-counsel, in two of the five consolidated cases in federal court.
In October, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a separate lawsuit challenging provisions of SB1 under Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act, which provides for voters who need assistance because of disability or language barriers to be given such assistance, and under the materiality provision in federal law, which provides that ballots should not be rejected for small, non-material errors.
On December 1, the plaintiffs filed amended complaints. Defendants likely will file motions to dismiss, and the parties will engage in discovery. The court has set tentative trial dates for July 2022.
On March 1, El Paso County Election Administrator Lisa Wise filed a response in opposition to the State’s Motion to Dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. The response argues the Texas Secretary of State is indeed involved in the enforcement of certain SB1 provisions, and therefore is a proper defendant in the case for those claims.
Federal Case Documents:
- LULAC v. Scott Amended Complaint
- LUPE v. Abbott Amended Complaint
- Houston Justice v. Abbott Amended Complaint
- OCA v. Scott Amended Complaint
- United States v. Texas Amended Complaint
- Order Granting Consolidation of Cases
- Department of Justice Statement of Interest
State Case Documents: