Judge Andrew Hanin, appointed by President George W. Bush, scheduled the hearing at 10:30 am local time on Monday.
A group of Republicans filed a petition on Tuesday demanding a halt to car voting in Harris County, referring to another attempt to dismantle the car vote after the Texas Supreme Court ruled last week that the car vote could go forward.
The same group of plaintiffs filed a new petition with the Texas Supreme Court pending a ruling.
Both petitions seek to prevent the approximately 127,000 ballot papers cast during early voting from being tabled until the court issues an order. Votes will be counted starting on election day morning.
Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins has strongly advocated car voting as a legal and safe option to vote during the pandemic. County attorneys provided a nearly 200-page response to the Texas Supreme Court this week. Supporters of the car-to-car vote also point out how the Texas Supreme Court, which is made up only of Republicans, actually ruled in its favor last week.
Harris County is the home of Houston and the largest county in the state with 2.4 million registered voters. It became a bastion of the Democrats in the last elections.
Prosecutors, who include Republican activist Steve Hotze and three Republican candidates for office, say voting with cars in a car violates federal law.
Ten of the 120 early poll sites in Harris County are car-navigation. As of Friday, nearly 127,000 votes had been cast by car, accounting for nearly 9% of the total votes cast in the nation’s third most populous county. While sidewalk voting in Harris County is restricted to voters with disabilities and is located at all polling sites, drive-in polling sites are open to all voters.
The petition says that nine of the 10 sites are located in predominantly democratic areas.
The final challenge argues that the car-to-car vote violates the United States Constitution, which states that state legislatures decide how to hold elections. Prosecutors also argue that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as the county adopts a voting method that has not been adopted by other Texas counties.
State Republican Rep. Steve Toth, included in the petition as prosecutor, argued that the job of the state legislature – not the local counties – is to implement changes such as voting through leadership. He also criticized the state’s Supreme Court ruling last week. Represents South Montgomery County, North Harris County.