Texas Bexar County Polling Location Reduction Challenge
Texas Organizing Project v. Wolff
Lawsuit filed by the Texas Organizing Project against the Bexar County judge and multiple Bexar County commissioners challenging the Bexar County Elections Department’s decision to close numerous polling locations for the upcoming 2022 midterm elections. The plaintiff argues that a reduction in polling locations and the defendants’ failure to “operate a legally sufficient number of polling places on Election Day” violates the Texas Election Code. The plaintiff asserts that the Texas Election Code mandates that “[t]he total number of countywide polling places may not be less than…50 percent of the number of precinct polling places that would otherwise be located in the county for that election” and alleges that Bexar County does not meet this threshold. The plaintiff claims that, in accordance with this law, Bexar County should have a minimum of 388 polling locations amongst its 776 election precincts. The plaintiff also notes that although the county can combine precincts (if a county election precinct is left with fewer than 500 voters for smaller counties and 750 voters for larger counties due to the enactment of a new redistricting plan), there are no legitimate reasons to justify combining any of Bexar County’s precincts for the upcoming election. The plaintiff also alleges that Bexar County’s reduction in polling locations to 267 locations throughout the county disproportionately impacts minority voters in violation of Texas law since these voters will be burdened by having to travel further distances in order to get to their polling places and may be less likely to turn out to vote as a result. The plaintiff asks the court to order the Bexar County defendants to operate a minimum of 388 countywide polling locations on Election Day and to declare the county’s current plan (to operate only 267 polling locations) in violation of Texas law.
On Oct. 10, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion for a temporary injunction and ordered Bexar County to operate a minimum of 388 polling locations on Election Day in order to comply with the Texas Election Code. On Oct. 18, Bexar County announced that it came to an agreement with the plaintiff to operate 302 polling locations on Election Day. On Jan. 9, 2023, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.