U.S. Justice Department files lawsuit against Texas on voting rights

WASHINGTON D.C. (KTRK) -- Months after Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1 into law, the U.S. Justice Department announced it filed a lawsuit over it.

On Thursday, the department announced it filed a suit against the state of Texas and the Texas Secretary of State over certain restrictive voting procedures imposed by SB1.

The video above is from when Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB1 into law.

"Our democracy depends on the right of eligible voters to cast a ballot and to have that ballot counted," said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. "The Justice Department will continue to use all the authorities at its disposal to protect this fundamental pillar of our society."

The complaint is that SB1 violates Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act by improperly restricting what assistance in the polling booth votes who have a disability or are unable to read or write can receive. The suit alleges that SB1 harms those votes by barring their assistors from providing help, including answering basic questions, responding to request to clarify ballot translation or confirming that voters with visual impairments have marked a ballot as intended.

SB1, which also prohibits unsolicited mail-in ballots, reportedly violates a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to a release from the department.

Republicans pushed for SB1 citing their desire to further safeguard elections from fraud - for which there is no evidence of a widespread problem - and to standardize election procedures. The legislation establishes new ID requirements for voting by mail, enhances protections for partisan poll watchers and sets new rules, and possible criminal penalties, for those who assist voters.
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