WASHINGTON, D.C. — On June 6, a federal court struck down multiple provisions of Senate Bill 1, Texas’ omnibus voter suppression law, that limited the ability of voters with limited English language proficiency or voters with disabilities to seek assistance throughout the voting process. The court’s order modified a 2018 permanent injunction — arising out of a 2015 lawsuit brought by the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA)-Greater Houston — which blocked two provisions of the Texas Election Code for violating Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Specifically, the 2018 injunction blocked provisions that arbitrarily mandated that interpreters be registered to vote in the same county as the voter seeking assistance and restricted the assistance a voter could receive to only voting inside the physical ballot box. In January 2022, the OCA-Greater Houston plaintiffs resurrected their 2015 lawsuit and asked the court to modify the 2018 permanent injunction to account for multiple provisions of S.B. 1 that failed to comply with the 2018 injunction, which the court granted in a modified permanent injunction on June 6, 2022. As of July 6, the defendants can no longer appeal this modified order, meaning that the problematic provisions of S.B. 1 that curtailed voters’ ability to seek assistance are no longer in effect and can no longer be challenged in court
In their request to the court to modify the 2018 injunction, the OCA-Greater Houston plaintiffs pointed out that S.B. 1 utilized the same language that the court previously blocked. In particular, S.B. 1 confined the assistance that voters could receive to reading and marking a ballot in the voting booth. The 2018 injunction, however, declared these limitations unlawful under the VRA and noted that assistance can be sought throughout the entire voting process — not just in the ballot box. S.B. 1 also required those providing assistance to take an oath promising to limit their assistance to reading the ballot to the voter and marking their ballot. The court’s modified injunction also deemed this oath in violation of Section 208 of the VRA. Finally, the court ordered Texas to implement a remedial plan and revise its training and instruction manuals to comply with revised injunction and to notify election officials clarifying that they should not enforce the struck-down portions of S.B. 1.