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Justice Department Sues Texas Over New Voting Restrictions

Justice Department Sues Texas Over New Voting Restrictions

The Justice Department is suing Texas over new voting restrictions that the federal government says will disenfranchise eligible voters and violate federal voting rights law.

The law, which bans 24-hour and drive-through voting, imposes new restrictions on mail-in ballots, and empowers partisan poll watchers, was signed by the state’s Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in September. The Justice Department lawsuit said the law illegally restricts voters’ rights by requiring rejection of mail ballots “for immaterial errors and omissions.” The law also harms the rights of voters with limited English proficiency, military members deployed away from home, and voters overseas, the Justice Department alleges.

[Photo by Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images]
The new lawsuit filed on Thursday is the just latest legal fight between the Biden Justice Department and Texas, which are already battling each other in court over abortion rights, immigration enforcement, and vaccine mandates. It specifically challenges the law known as SB1 passed by the Republican-dominated Texas state government earlier this year to overhaul their election procedures. “Before SB 1, the State of Texas already imposed some of the strictest limitations in the nation on the right of certain citizens to voting assistance. SB 1 further, and impermissibly, restricts the core right to meaningful assistance in the voting booth,” the Justice Department says in the lawsuit.

The Texas law passed following a contentious debate in which some Democrats left the state to try to prevent its approval. It was among a spate of similar laws in Republican-run states aimed in response to false claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

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But it’s not only Texas Republicans who want to restrict voting rights. Senate Republicans blocked the John Lewis Voting Rights Act on Wednesday from advancing when the Senate took a procedural vote on whether to open debate on the legislation. The bill which would fight voter suppression and restore key parts of the landmark Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965, failed in a 50 to 49 vote. GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was the only Republican to vote along with Democrats.

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