A judge in a federal court in Texas rejected a Republican-led effort to nullify thousands of votes cast in one of the largest counties in the United States.
US District Court Judge Andrew Hanin, appointed under Republican President George W. Bush, ruled that Republican prosecutors seeking to disqualify the nearly 127,000 ballot papers in command positions in Harris County have no standing to do so.
He said he “does not buy” the plaintiffs ’argument that the ballot papers are not safe, and rejected arguments that casting votes in positions of leadership approved by the state legislature from both parties and the Secretary of State are illegal.
On Monday he said, “I will not enter a court order because I do not find it in time.” “This has happened at least since September … These are registered voters who provided their IDs.”
Pending an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Federal Court, Judge Hanin ordered election officials to keep records of votes cast in leadership positions during Election Day.
But it also suggested that voters who plan to vote on Election Day do so in person at polling stations, rather than at roadside polling sites.
He said, “If I were to vote tomorrow, I would not vote through a car ride to make sure that my vote would be valid.”
Harris County clerk Chris Hollins confirmed to reporters that all 10 voting locations on the sidewalk will open on November 3.
Harris County, which includes the Houston area, is the most populous county in the state. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won in 2016 with nearly 160,000 votes.
On Sunday, the state Supreme Court rejected the appeal filed by three Republican candidates and a Republican activist in a similar suit.
Election analysts believe Texas has emerged as a potential battleground between Donald Trump and Joe Biden that could turn into a Democratic presidential victory for the first time since 1976 when Jimmy Carter took over the state. There are also a number of local and state races on the ballot in Texas.
More than 9 million people have already voted in the state through early voting and casting ballots by mail, a massive turnout that has surpassed the state’s total voter turnout since the 2016 presidential election.
Voting rights groups and civil rights organizations sought to block the measure, what Texas Director of American Civil Liberties Andrew Segura described as “another desperate and ludicrous attempt by extremists to derail the will of the people and disrupt democracy.”
Joe Strauss, the former Republican president for the state House of Representatives, described the Republican claim as “completely wrong.”
“The Republican Party should return to a place where we win ideas and persuasion, instead of trying to intimidate and silence our citizens,” he said on Sunday.
After Monday’s ruling, Sophia Lynn Lakin, deputy director of the Voting Rights Project for the ACLU, said, “The court was right to reject this outrageous attempt to undermine a correct and accurate vote count and inappropriately influence the election outcome.”
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