US judge: 127,000 ballots cast at Houston drive-thru sites will be counted


HOUSTON (NewsNation Now) —  In an extraordinary eleventh-hour move, a handful of GOP advocates and candidates made the request to throw out 127,000 drive-through votes in Harris County, Texas. The final hearing was Monday, and it was a nail-biter that kept Houston-area voters on the edge of their seats.

In the leadup to November 3, Texas has smashed early voting records, with more Texans casting early ballots than the number of total votes in 2016. This weekend, the fate of 127,000 early votes hung in limbo in Harris County—with the GOP plaintiffs arguing that votes cast in the drive-through locations violated the U.S. Constitution.

Jared Woodhill, who represents the plaintiffs, said, “We’re hopeful that he’ll (federal judge) stop this illegal form of voting from continuing to occur.” Woodhill argues that the drive-through locations were an illegal extension of curbside voting.

But attorney and clinical professor of law at SMU Eric Cedillo says the drive-through votes are legally sound—adding that the Harris County locations were “vetted in every way.”

“They created it so people could come out and vote and feel safe,” said Cedillo. “Not have to worry about going inside, perhaps exposing themselves.”

Cedillo says the hail Mary attempt was senseless.

“These 127,000 voters are not just Democrats–They’re Republicans, as well,” said Cedillo. “To disallow votes is an incredible request.”

By 3 p.m. Texas time on Monday, the federal judge denied the last-minute request—calling it “an uphill road” for the plaintiffs. This, coming 24 hours after the Texas Supreme Court had rejected the argument first.

“Bush v Gore in 2000 kind of set out a principle that maintained the Supreme Court of your state is the ultimate arbiter of these decisions, so it’s the Texas Supreme Court we should be looking at,” said Cedillo.

Another battle began brewing in Harris County on Monday when officials showed up to the Democratic headquarters to find it had been vandalized. The words “election no, revolution yes” were spray painted in red. And the locks had been super glued shut. The Houston Police Department tells NewsNation they are still investigating the case.

The Harris County Democratic Party chair Lillie Schechter said: “This is what happens when Republicans are losing. They use scare tactics and intimidation to scare voters. This will not distract us from our mission to elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”

And while the country will have to wait until Tuesday to see if that statement holds water, Cedillo says these last-minute attempts aren’t unprecedented.

“We do see it every once in a while, of course, in close voting and we do believe this will be a very close vote,” he said.

In regards to the 127,000 votes, the Biden campaign saying on Monday that this ruling was a victory for Texas voters, saying: “Make no mistake: this is not a partisan victory.”  NewsNation reached out to attorney Jared Woodhill for response to Monday’s ruling, and at this time we have not heard back.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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