Republican activists considering renewing appeal in Harris County drive-thru voting case

Tuesday, November 3, 2020
What's next after federal judge allows drive-thru votes?
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One thing that is certain after a judge dismissed a GOP-led effort to stop drive-thru voting: there will be more courtroom battles to come. In the video, ABC13's Ted Oberg looks at what is next for drive-thru voting in Harris County.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After multiple judicial rulings allowing drive-thru voting in Harris County, the battle over the method could extend past Election Day.

Republican activists are considering renewing their appeal in the case.

Late Monday night, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Republicans' motion to halt drive-thru voting, meaning that the 127,000 ballots cast could not be invalidated.

If the appeal is taken up again, it would be to all 17 of the appeals judges in the Fifth Circuit Court. A panel of three judges denied the appeal on Monday.

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen said the petition brought by Texas Republican activist Dr. Steven Hotze and three candidates to toss out the 127,000 votes had "no standing."

The ruling came about an hour after Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins announced on Twitter that nine out of 10 drive-thru voting locations would be closed as a precaution on Election Day. The only drive-thru voting location open is the Toyota Center.

"This evening, Judge Hanen issued his order upholding drive-thru voting during the Early Voting period. He also stated his view that the tents that house most of the drive-thru voting centers would not qualify as "buildings," which are required for Election Day polling places," Hollins tweeted. "My job is to protect the right to vote for all Harris County voters, and that includes those who are going to vote on Election Day. I cannot in good faith encourage voters to cast their votes in tents if that puts their votes at risk. The Toyota Center DTV site fits the Judge's definition of a "building": it is "a structure with walls and a roof" and "a permanent structure." It is thus unquestionably a suitable location for Election Day voting."

Drive-thru voters are reminded to enter the Toyota Tundra Garage at the intersection of Leeland and Crawford Street to access this polling location.

Each polling location and the wait times to vote are available on the county clerk's website. You can also view a sample ballot for Harris County.

The dismissal came a day after the same group of Republicans saw their bid struck down by the Texas Supreme Court.

Initially, 10 drive-thru voting centers were set up for this election to make voting easier for people worried about walking into a polling place, risking exposure to COVID-19.

About 10% of the ballots cast during early voting happened at these drive-thrus.

The Harris County Clerk's Office had argued drive-thru locations are separate polling places, different from attached curbside spots, and should be available for all voters.

WATCH: Harris Co. clerk on drive-thru voting ruling: 'We will fight to the end'

Curbside voting remains in place. Voters who are "physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance or the likelihood of injuring the voter's health" may ask the presiding precinct election official to allow them to vote outside the polling location, according to a release from the county clerk's office.

Remember that you can take as much time as you need to vote.

The polls are open until 7 p.m. As long as you're in line before closing time, you are allowed to vote.

Drive-thru voting locations in Harris Co. see greater numbers than in-person voting

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