Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria v. Attorney General Paxton – SB1 (TX)
On February 11, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas accepted a motion by El Paso County Elections Administrator Lisa Wise to file an amicus brief in support of Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the case Longoria v. Paxton. The States United Democracy Center and Cooley LLP served as outside counsel on the brief.
In the case, plaintiff Isabel Longoria is challenging an SB 1 provision, Section 276.016(a)(1) of the Texas Election Code, that makes it a crime for her and other election officials to “solicit” voters to apply to vote by mail. Amicus Curiae Lisa Wise explained that election officials, like all Americans, have free speech rights under the First Amendment and that this provision violates those rights by penalizing election officials for encouraging eligible voters to submit vote-by-mail applications. Wise stressed that election officials like her must be able to effectively administer elections and ensure that elections in Texas are free, fair, and secure, without fear of criminal penalty for encouraging the use of vote-by-mail for eligible voters. In the brief, she noted that the SB1 provision does not create criminal penalties for discouraging the use of vote-by-mail for eligible voters, and the First Amendment does not tolerate such content-based and viewpoint-based prohibitions.
On February 8, Texas Attorney General Paxton, one of the defendants in the case, opposed Longoria’s motion for a preliminary injunction.
After a hearing on February 11, Judge Xavier Rodriguez granted the preliminary injunction, banning the enforcement of the SB1 provision until final judgement.