Nov 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

DOJ sues Texas over "unlawful and indefensible" voting restrictions

Photo of multiple people standing at polling booths

Voters cast ballots for the 2020 election at a polling location in Houston, Texas. Photo: Sharon Steinmann/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Texas on Thursday over restrictive voting laws that impact people with disabilities and communities of color.

Why it matters: Led by state Republicans, Texas signed into law some of the nation's most restrictive voting measures in September. The state has already faced a flurry of lawsuits from civil rights groups.

The big picture: The agency also sued Georgia earlier this year for similar restrictive voting measures.

What they're saying: The DOJ accuses Texas of violating the Voting Rights Act by limiting polling booth assistance for voters who have disabilities or are unable to read or write.

  • Doing so prevents necessary help, including "answering basic questions, responding to requests to clarify ballot translations or confirming that voters with visual impairments have marked a ballot as intended," the department said.
  • It also alleges that Texas' laws violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by rejecting mail ballots with paperwork errors or omissions that "are not material to establishing a voter's eligibility to cast a ballot."
  • The suit asks the court to bar Texas from enforcing these provisions.

What they're saying: "Our democracy depends on the right of eligible voters to cast a ballot and to have that ballot counted," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

  • "The Justice Department will continue to use all the authorities at its disposal to protect this fundamental pillar of our society."
  • "Laws that impair eligible citizens’ access to the ballot box have no place in our democracy," added Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
  • "Texas Senate Bill 1’s restrictions on voter assistance at the polls and on which absentee ballots cast by eligible voters can be accepted by election officials are unlawful and indefensible,” she said.
Go deeper