Texas Democrats suing state over new early voting regulations

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Democratic organizations at the state and national level have filed a suit arguing that a new Texas law that limits potential early voting sites unfairly targets young voters.

In the lawsuit, the Texas Democratic Party along with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee claim that House Bill 1888 is unconstitutional because it decreases the access of young voters to polling sites.

The law requires all voting sites to remain open for all 12 days of early voting. This effectively eliminates mobile polling locations on college campuses, which typically are only open for a portion of the 12-day early voting period.

Texas could halt campus voting sites

One of the bill’s authors, Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, said mobile locations led to vote harvesting in Texas.

“The flexibility of polling locations was designed to accommodate more voters near their homes and workplaces, but some subdivisions of the state have abused this flexibility, targeting desirable voting populations at the exclusion of others,” Bonnen said.

Democrats argue that the measure limits access to young and rural voters.

“Before, it was really easy to go vote since the voting booths were on campus,” junior Jordan Varat said. “Now that they aren’t on campus it’ll be a lot more difficult and inconvenient to find the time and place to vote and will definitely discourage students from voting.”

In the lawsuit, Democrats contend that “HB 1888 now mandates that, based on where they live, some voters will enjoy the same consistent access to early voting they had previously, but voters who live near now-defunct temporary voting sites, especially young voters, will suffer reduced or eliminated access to the franchise.”

Tarrant County used six different voting locations on college and university campuses during the 2018 midterms. The new law would remove these locations unless the county decides to allocate funds to allow them to stay open for the entire earl-voting period.

“Republicans know Texas is changing, that’s why they’re trying to change the rules to make it harder for college students, seniors, the disability community, rural Texans and survivors of natural disasters to cast their ballots,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement after the lawsuit was filed. “Texas Democrats know we should be making it easier to vote, not harder. Democracy thrives when everyone participates.”