Federal court calls emergency hearing on GOP effort to throw out drive-in votes in Texas

A federal court in Houston on Monday is set to hear a last-minute request by Texas Republicans to throw out more than 100,000 ballots in Democratic-leaning Harris County.

Four Republican plaintiffs, three of them Texas candidates, are asking District Judge Andrew Hanen to toss all drive-through ballots in the county, despite the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court rejecting their argument at the state level Sunday, Politico reported.

Lawyers for Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, the defendant in the case, called on Hanen to reject the suit, noting that the voters who have already cast drive-through ballots did so in full compliance with the law.


“There are more than 125,000 horses out of the barn,” the lawyers wrote in a brief Sunday night. “These voters cast ballots for candidates of both political parties in good-faith and justified reliance on the legality of the drive-through polling places.”

Hollins’s office is also pushing back against the plaintiffs’ alternative request to set the drive-through ballots aside to determine their legality later. In that case, those voters “would be left to wonder whether their votes would be counted. Confidence in the democratic process would be shaken,” his lawyers wrote.

"We know that the law is on our side," Hollins told CNN shortly after the state Supreme Court ruling. "We know that we should be protecting these votes, making sure that all of our residents here can have their voice heard, can have their say in our democracy."

Voting rights advocates have expressed concern about the case being handled by Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee who blocked an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2015.

Republican operatives have filed numerous legal challenges to non-in-person voting methods set up during the coronavirus pandemic. President TrumpDonald TrumpMedia giants side with Bannon on request to release Jan. 6 documents Cheney warns of consequences for Trump in dealings with Jan. 6 committee Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official MORE has frequently made baseless assertions that voting by mail will lead to widespread voter fraud and has suggested he will attempt to stop counts that go beyond election night in states like Pennsylvania.