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The Biden administration is suing Texas over its new voting law

Sophia DeLoretto-Chudy holds a sign calling to end voter suppression at a press conference at the state Capitol in April.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
Sophia DeLoretto-Chudy holds a sign in opposition to voting legislation before the state Legislature, outside the state Capitol in April.

The Biden administration is suing Texas, again, this time over the state’s massive voting law that was signed into law in September and is set to got into effect Dec. 2.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in a federal court Thursday claiming the law contains several provisions that “will disenfranchise eligible Texas citizens who seek to exercise their right to vote.”

Federal officials claim that includes “voters with limited English proficiency, voters with disabilities, elderly voters, members of the military” who are deployed and American citizens who are out of the country.

“These vulnerable voters already confront barriers to the ballot box,” DOJ officials claim, “and SB 1 will exacerbate the challenges they face in exercising their fundamental right to vote.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded to the lawsuit on Twitter: "Biden is coming after Texas for SB1, our recently enacted election integrity law. It’s a great and a much-needed bill. Ensuring Texas has safe, secure, and transparent elections is a top priority of mine. I will see you in court, Biden!"

The DOJ lawsuit raises concerns about parts of the Texas law that add new rules and restrictions around what kinds of assistance voters with disabilities can receive at the polls.

The Biden administration also is challenging changes state lawmakers made to mail-in voting. Officials claim new identification requirements could disenfranchise eligible voters.

“By requiring rejection of mail ballot materials that do not contain identification numbers that identify the same voter identified on the voter’s application for voter registration,” the lawsuit argues. “SB 1 mandates rejection of written materials requisite to voting based on errors or omissions that are not material to determining a voter’s qualification to vote or vote by mail.”

A coalition of Texas House Democrats said in a statement that they are "grateful" the DOJ and Biden administration are "taking decisive action to stop Texas Republicans’ continued attacks on our democracy."

“Senate Bill 1 is a sweeping piece of legislation that creates unnecessary and deliberate barriers to voting. This bill was never about election security or voter integrity," they said. "It was always about Texas Republicans using the Big Lie to justify restricting access to the ballot box."

Earlier this year, a group of Texas House Democrats fled the state in an effort to deny Republicans a quorum to pass a voting bill. They largely stayed in Washington, D.C., and lobbied members of Congress to pass federal voting protections that would supersede state laws.

In their statement Thursday, the Democrats said that work still needs to be done.

“We are hopeful the DOJ’s challenge will bring necessary relief to Texans, but we cannot always rely on the courts to protect our freedom to vote from attack by the GOP," they wrote. "We need the U.S. Senate to reform the filibuster and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act immediately. Our democracy depends on it.”

In their lawsuit, DOJ officials also raise concerns about Texas’ long history of passing laws that discriminate against vulnerable communities, including people with disabilities and people of color.

“The State of Texas’s history of official voting-related discrimination against its disfavored citizens is longstanding and well-documented,” officials wrote. “Federal intervention has been necessary to eliminate numerous devices intentionally used to restrict minority voting in Texas.”

Got a tip? Email Ashley Lopez at alopez@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.

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