Tuesday November 3, 2020
SKV partners Larry Veselka and David Isaak helped ensure that ballots cast by 127,000 registered voters at drive-thru polling locations across Harris County during early voting will be counted on Election Day. A federal lawsuit filed by activist Dr. Steven Hotze and three Republican candidates on the last day of early voting claimed that drive-thru voting was “illegal” and urged federal district judge Andrew S. Hanen to invalidate all ballots cast at drive-thru locations. SKV represented 18 drive-thru voters and argued that the lawsuit was a desperate attempt to thwart the electoral process by disenfranchising registered voters who relied on County officials and cast ballots at drive-thru polling locations in good faith.
Following a four-hour hearing, Judge Hanen concluded that the challengers lacked standing to bring their claims and dismissed the lawsuit. Judge Hanen further noted that even if the challengers had standing, he would have denied their relief because drive-thru voting is permissible during early voting and “to disenfranchise over 120,000 voters who voted as instructed the day before the scheduled election does not serve the public interest.”
The challengers immediately appealed Judge Hanen’s decision to the Fifth Circuit and requested an emergency order to stop drive-thru voting on Election Day. The Fifth Circuit denied the request in a one-sentence order issued November 2, 2020.
The challengers did not include in that request for emergency relief that the Fifth Circuit invalidate the 127,000 ballots previously cast at drive-thru locations during the early voting period, thereby ensuring that these ballots will be counted on Election Day.
“After only getting involved late Saturday, our team worked diligently around the clock to ensure the most fundamental constitutional right—the right to vote—of those 127,000 Houstonians was honored. We are thrilled with the outcome for them,” said SKV partner and lead lawyer, Larry Veselka.
SKV is proud to a have played a role in preventing the disenfranchisement of Harris County voters. Larry Veselka and David Isaak were assisted on this matter by SKV associates Jacquelyn Rex, Eugene Zilberman, Rex Manning, counsel Sarah Cooper, paralegal Sallie Woodell, and legal assistant Christina Brient.
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