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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

What the Supreme Court's docket means for Texas

Data: Myers Abortion Facility Database on OSF; map: Thomas Oide/Axios

Austinites might soon have to drive more than 575 miles — one way — to have an abortion.

Driving the news: The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday appeared likely to weaken abortion rights and perhaps let states ban the procedure altogether.

Advocates see "opportunity" in abortion fight to galvanize Democratic voters

Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson speaks during an abortion rights rally in October. Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March

Abortion rights advocates believe the Supreme Court fight over Mississippi's strict abortion bill has the potential to turn the political script: galvanize Democratic voters, instead of its historic ability to drive turnout among Republicans.

What they're saying: "The opportunity is that people are enraged," Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, told Axios in an interview. "What we saw in Texas, and what people will walk away from [the Mississippi oral arguments with], is a level of rage that we could be living in a world six months from now — where our children have fewer rights than we have right now."

Updated 5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.