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Poll station workers receive voting machines, registration paper and disinfection products on Nov. 1 in Harris County, Texas. Photo: Zeng Jingning/China News Service via Getty Images

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied late Monday a Republican effort to block drive-through voting in Harris Country, Texas, on Election Day.

Where it stands: The county will allow one drive-through voting at only one location on Election Day — instead of 10 — to stay fully within state code that allows the practice in "buildings," as the other centers were in tents, according to county clerk Chris Hollins.

The state of play: The appeals court ruling came after a federal district judge rejected a similar GOP request to invalidate 127,000 ballots that had already been cast via drive-through voting stations across the county.

  • The Texas Supreme Court also denied an effort by Republicans to toss out the drive-through votes.
  • Republicans argued that Harris County had violated state law by setting up drive-through voting sites, which they claimed favored Democrats, according to the New York Times.
  • Curbside voting is allowed under state law for voters who are sick or disabled. The Republicans argued that "a voter’s general fear or lack of immunity from COVID-19 is not a 'disability' as defined by the Election Code," and thus the pandemic should not be an excuse for drive-through voting.

Between the lines: Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, is the most populous county in Texas and voted for Hillary Clinton over President Trump by 160,000 ballots in 2016, according to Bloomberg.

  • Texas, which hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1976, has been rated a toss-up by the Cook Political Report. Joe Biden securing the state's 38 electoral votes would virtually guarantee his path to the White House.

The big picture: Dozens of lawsuits related to voting rights continue to be litigated all over the country, as Republicans sue to block efforts to expand voting access — such as extending mail-in ballot deadlines — that have been instituted during the pandemic.

Editor's note: The item and headline have been corrected to reflect the fact that the appeals court ruling only addressed whether drive-through voting centers should remain open (not whether the votes previously cast by drive-through voting should be invalidated).

Go deeper

GOP voters choose Trump — again

Data: Ipsos/Axios survey; Chart: Axios Visuals

Republicans across the U.S. are siding with President Trump over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — big time — according to a new Axios-Ipsos poll.

The state of play: A majority of Republicans still think Trump was right to challenge his election loss, support him, don’t blame him for the Capitol mob and want him to be the Republican nominee in 2024.

Moderna says vaccine appears to protect against new COVID-19 variants

Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is effective against new variants of the virus that first appeared in the U.K. and in South Africa, the company announced on Monday.

Yes, but: The vaccine was as effective against the strain from U.K., but saw a six-fold reduction in antibodies against the South Africa variant. Even still, the neutralizing antibodies generated by the vaccine "remain above levels that are expected to be protective," according to the company.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Updated 1 hour ago - World

Xi Jinping warns against "new cold war" in Davos speech

Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Wang Zhao - Pool/Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that a "new cold war" could turn hot, and must be avoided, in a speech on Monday at World Economic Forum’s virtual “Davos Agenda” conference.

Why it matters: Xi didn't refer directly to U.S.-China tensions, but the subtext was clear. These were his first remarks to an international audience since the inauguration of President Biden, whose administration has already concurred with Donald Trump's determination that China is committing "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims, and issued a warning about China's aggression toward Taiwan.