WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed a challenge to Texas’ drive-thru voting system that was in place for the 2020 general election, finding that there was no longer a live controversy present and the plaintiffs lacked standing. The lawsuit, filed in October of last year by Republican candidates and a Texas voter, challenged the administration of drive-thru voting in Harris County — a Democratic stronghold — for the November 2020 general election. Harris County enacted drive-thru voting in order to expand voting opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic, which the plaintiffs argued circumvented the Texas Legislature and Texas Election Code in violation of the U.S. Constitution and harmed the “integrity of the ballot box.” Days before the Nov. 3, 2020 election, the plaintiffs asked the district court to invalidate more than 100,000 votes already cast at drive-thru voting sites. The district court denied this request and simultaneously dismissed the case, holding that the plaintiffs’ asserted a “generalized grievance” that was not specific enough to confer standing. The 5th Circuit similarly denied injunctive relief upon appeal and fully dismissed the case today.
In its opinion today, the 5th Circuit held that the case was moot given that the November 2020 election has long passed. The court also held that the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge drive-thru voting for the upcoming state election on Nov. 2, 2021, when Texans will vote on state constitutional amendments, finding that the plaintiffs’ “contention that drive-thru voting hurt the ‘integrity’ of the election process” is “far too generalized to warrant standing.” Given the recent passage of Senate Bill 1, which bans drive-thru voting, the court found that any claims challenging drive-thru voting for elections held after Dec. 2, when the law goes into effect, are similarly moot.