Texas COVID-19 Election Relief*
Lewis v. Hughs
We sued to protect Texans who will seek to vote by mail in November’s general election. On behalf of Voto Latino, the Texas State Conference of the NAACP, the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans and individual voters, we challenged all Four Pillars in Texas that, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, will severely burden Texans’ right to vote. Our lawsuit asks Texas to provide prepaid postage for absentee ballots, accept all ballots postmarked on or before Election Day, prohibit enforcement of signature matching, allow voters the opportunity to correct a signature mismatch, and allow voters to designate any third party to collect their voted and sealed absentee ballot.
Texas No-Excuse Law
Gloria v. Hughs
On behalf of a group of Texas young voters and the National Redistricting Foundation, we sued Texas over its age restrictions for voting by mail. In Texas, any voter 65 years old or older is eligible to request and cast their ballot by mail. However, voters under 65 are broadly and categorically prohibited from doing the same only because of their age. We challenged this law under the 26th amendment and argue that the state may not constitutionally choose to restrict access to vote by mail based solely on a voter’s age.
Texas Straight Ticket Voting
Bruni v. Hughs
Challenging the State’s elimination of straight ticket voting that will go into effect in 2020 for the first time. Straight ticket voting is widely used by voters in Texas—a state that often employs long ballots—as in the 2018 election, two-thirds of voters cast a straight ticket vote. The elimination of straight ticket voting will likely lead to longer lines and wait times for all voters, which would likely deter voting. In addition, the elimination of straight ticket voting would likely lead to voter confusion and increased difficulty in casting a ballot.
Texas Wet Signature
Texas Democratic Party v. Hughs
Challenging the State of Texas over its announced prohibition against accepting electronically signed voter registration applications. In 2018, a mere five days before the voter registration deadline, the Texas Secretary of State instructed county registrars to reject over 2,400 voter registration applications that were collected and submitted by a third-party organization in connection with its efforts to expand voter participation and increase turnout in Texas. The Secretary claimed that the applications were incomplete because they lacked an original, wet signature. As a result, thousands of Texas voters were left scrambling to register to vote before the midterm elections, and many were unable to do so. The wet signature rule imposes an arbitrary requirement that limits access to the franchise and forces organizations like Plaintiffs to expend additional resources in order to assist potential registrants in complying with antiquated, bureaucratic rules that serve no legitimate State interest.
Texas Ballot Order
Miller. v. Hughs
Constitutional challenge to Texas’s ballot order statute, which requires that candidates of the political party of the Governor be listed first on the ballot in all elections. Expert analysis shows that the first listed candidate on the ballot receives a certain percentage of additional votes solely due to their ballot position. We contend that the statute unduly burdens the right to vote in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments and treats similarly situated candidates differently without sufficient justification, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Texas Mobile Polling Locations
Gilby v. Hughs
Constitutional challenge to a recent change in Texas law that limits the discretion of county election administrators in providing temporary early voting locations. These locations, which opened for limited hours and days during the two-week early voting period, were used to provide early voting opportunities for groups with limited access to transportation, including students. We contend that this law imposes an unconstitutional burden on the voting rights of students in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and also violates the Equal Protection Clause and Twenty-Sixth Amendment.
Texas DMV Voter Registration
Stringer v. Hughes
Intervening in the district court case started by the Texas Civil Rights Project to pursue Equal Protection claims against the state. The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) requires that a state allow for simultaneous application for voter registration along with motor vehicle transactions, including license renewals and change of address. For online transactions, Texas currently has a box people check that states “yes, I would like to register to vote,” but that does not actually register you. It instead merely provides you a hyperlink to the Secretary of State’s website, where you have to fill out an entirely new registration form. Plaintiffs brought an Equal Protection claim because in-person and mail change of address and renewal forms in Texas currently serve as simultaneous voter registration applications, unlike online transactions. The district court found that the state has provided no interest at all to justify this law and struck it down as unconstitutional, but the victory was reversed after the plaintiffs updated their registration. Our intervention will use the entire evidentiary record already before the district court to reinstate this victory.