TEXAS REDISTRICTING & ELECTION LAW

Updates about ongoing redistricting litigation in the Lone Star State and coverage of election law more generally. This website's goal is to try to make sure the redistricting process and litigation over voting law is as transparent and accessible as possible to the public. Hopefully, it will be of some use to a broad range of interested parties, both lawyers and non-lawyers. Have questions, comments, suggestions, additional content, or a redistricting joke (or two)? Feel free to contact me: Michael Li, michael.li@mlilaw.com, 202.681.0641.
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This afternoon, U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa enjoined enforcement of Texas laws passed in the 2011 legislative session which require that deputy voter registrars be Texas residents and prohibited performance-based compensation for voter registration staff.

The restrictions had been challenged by the non-profit group Voting for America and various other plaintiffs in a suit filed early this year in federal district court in Galveston.

The court rejected claims of Texas that the new restrictions were required to prevent fraud, holding that “[i]f these practices did contribute to fraud, concrete examples of such fraud would likely exist from decades of experience … But no such evidence was introduced for the Court to weigh against the harm to Plaintiffs.”

The court also enjoined enforcement of existing provisions of Texas law which Texas interpreted as banning deputy voter registrars from “accepting or handling applications from residents of counties other than the county in which the person is appointed as a VDR,” finding the requirement unconstitutionally burdensome.  The court noted:

As Plaintiffs have pointed out, a VDR active only in the City of Dallas would need to be appointed in Dallas, Denton, Collin, Rockwall, and Kaufman Counties in order to legally accept applications from residents of all parts of the city … The county limitation, by requiring both registration and training in any county in which a potential VDR wishes to submit applications, thus imposes severe time burdens and administrative expenses on voter registration activities.

The court also barred enforcement of prohibitions on “photocopying or scanning voter registration applications that have been submitted to a VDR but not yet delivered to the appropriate county registrar, so long as the information copied or scanned does not include” confidential personal information, such as driver’s license or social security numbers.

In addition, the court enjoined provisions requiring that completed applications be delivered in person by a deputy voter registrar rather than by U.S. mail. 

The court’s 94-page opinion can be found here.