“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 says Senate Bill 1 discriminates against voters with a disability who can't read or write by limiting what assistance they can receive while voting. Under the law, the people assisting them can't answer basic questions; respond to requests to clarify ballot translations; or confirm the ballot was marked as intended by voters with visual impairments.
“The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the fundamental right to vote for all Americans,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Laws that impair eligible citizens’ access to the ballot box have no place in our democracy. Texas Senate Bill 1’s restrictions on voter assistance at the polls and on which absentee ballots cast by eligible voters can be accepted by election officials are unlawful and indefensible.”
The lawsuits also asks the court to stop Texas from rejecting mail ballots and mail ballot request forms from eligible voters because of paperwork errors or omissions.
Texas Secretary of State John B. Young is a co-defendant in the lawsuit.
Last-ditch effort fails
On Wednesday, an effort to pass a federal voting rights bill that would have helped override some of Texas’s new restrictions and redrawn districts was blocked by Senate Republicans, including Texans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.
The bill’s failure marks a last-ditch effort by congressional Democrats to restore and expand sections of the Voting Rights Act and challenge voting restrictions enacted by an estimated 18 Republican-controlled states, including Texas.