A legal cloud hanging over nearly 127,000 votes already cast in Harris County was at least temporarily lifted Sunday when the Texas Supreme Court rejected a request by several conservative Republican activists and candidates to preemptively throw out early balloting from drive-thru polling sites in the state's most populous, and largely Democratic, county.
A hearing in that case is set for Monday morning in a Houston-based federal district court, one day before Election Day.
A rejection of the votes would constitute a monumental disenfranchisement of voters — drive-thru ballots account for about 10% of all in-person ballots cast during early voting in Harris County.
In a last-minute filing to the Supreme Court, litigious conservative Steven Hotze and Harris County Republicans state Rep. Steve Toth, congressional candidate Wendell Champion and judicial candidate Sharon Hemphill sought to have the votes declared illegal.
The same argument had been made in an unsuccessful previous legal challenge from Hotze and Hemphill — along with the Harris County Republican Party — filed at the state Supreme Court hours before early voting began.
The clerk’s filing with the Supreme Court in the earlier lawsuit also said the Texas secretary of state’s office had approved of drive-thru voting.
Plus, the county argued in a Friday filing that Texas' election code, along with court rulings, have determined that even if the drive-thru locations are violations, votes cast there are still valid. »