Yesterday, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Reed Smith LLP, and The Arc filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Houston Area Urban League, Houston Justice, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and The Arc of Texas challenging S.B. 1, a new Texas law targeting voting rights.
S.B. 1 includes a series of suppressive voting-related provisions that will make it much harder for Texas residents to vote and disenfranchise some altogether, particularly Black and Latino voters and voters with disabilities.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, argues that S.B. 1 violates the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by intentionally targeting and burdening methods and means of voting used by voters of color.
The Plaintiffs also claim that the law violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act by imposing voting barriers that will discriminate against voters with disabilities and deny people with disabilities full and equal opportunities to participate in the state’s voting programs.
The lawsuit challenges multiple provisions in SB 1, including:
- Limitations on early voting hours and a ban on 24-hour voting.
- The elimination of drive-thru voting centers.
- The prohibition of mail-in ballot drop-boxes.
- Limitations on the distribution of mail-in ballot applications.
- Limitations and possible penalties for voter assistants, including criminal felonies
“Despite Texas legislators’ repeated and disingenuous attempts to cite ‘voter fraud’ as their reasoning for implementing S.B. 1, it is clear as day that this law was created to suppress votes,” said LDF Assistant Counsel Georgina Yeomans. “Rather than expand voting access, elected officials are making it harder for Texans to vote – especially voters of color, who will be disproportionately burdened. S.B. 1 was intentionally designed to have that effect.”
“Democracy should make it easier for eligible voters to vote, not harder,” said Ken Broughton, managing partner of Reed Smith’s Houston office. “Democracy should also increase voter turnout, not inhibit it. This legislation will prevent many qualified voters from voting because these laws are anti-voter.”
This is one of many lawsuits filed almost immediately after Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law.
There are others from Democratic attorney Marc Elias, the ACLU, and The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, to name a few.