The lawsuit charges that parts of Texas Senate Bill 1 violate Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act by making it harder for people who have disabilities or cannot read or write to vote. Under the Texas law, people would be barred from offering assistance to those voters to, for instance, answer questions about the ballot, clarify translations, or check to be sure that a visually impaired person’s ballot matches their intent. Additionally, the Justice Department says the Texas law violates Section 101 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by requiring elections officials to reject mail ballots and mail ballot request forms for mistakes that “are not material to establishing a voter’s eligibility to cast a ballot.”
“The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the fundamental right to vote for all Americans,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “Laws that impair eligible citizens’ access to the ballot box have no place in our democracy. Texas Senate Bill 1’s restrictions on voter assistance at the polls and on which absentee ballots cast by eligible voters can be accepted by election officials are unlawful and indefensible.”
The Justice Department’s complaint addresses only some parts of the sweeping Texas law, which also bans 24-hour voting and drive-thru voting—both of which were disproportionately used by voters of color in 2020—as well as giving partisan poll watchers new powers to intimidate voters and election officials. The Justice Department also weighed in on supporting a lawsuit brought by other groups to challenge SB 1 on racial discrimination grounds.
Abbott was predictably defiant on Twitter, also predictably without addressing the substance of the complaint.
The Justice Department previously sued Georgia over its massive voter suppression law. Both lawsuits are likely to run into the Trump-packed courts’ hostility to voting rights.