GOP in Texas Asks to Toss Out 117,000 Ballots Cast in Drive-Thru Voting

Texas Republicans are seeking to have around 117,000 ballots thrown out by a federal court in advance of the presidential election on November 3. More than 91 million people have already voted nationally.

The request has been brought in Harris County by a Republican state representative, two GOP candidates and wealthy conservative activist, according to the Texas Tribune.

They argue that the votes should be thrown out because they were cast at drive-thru voting locations and drive-thru voting violates the U.S. Constitution. District Judge Andrew Hanen is expected to make a decision by November 2.

Harris County is Texas' most populous county, with a population of more than 4.7 million, and is largely Democratic in its voting patterns.

The 117,000 votes in question could potentially affect the outcome of the election in Texas and throw the state to former Vice President Joe Biden.

It would be the first time a Democrat had won the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976, but polls show it is a possibility.

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughes approved the use of drive-thru voting locations when Harris County brought the issue up in June of this year. Ten drive-thru voting places were set up in the county by Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins.

Voters drive into a large tent and election officials confirm their identity and give them privacy to cast their votes. Texas Republicans began to challenge the procedure on October 15. That was two days after early voting began.

The Harris County Republican Party asked the Texas Supreme Court to halt drive-thru voting on October 15 but the court refused, with one judge dissenting. The Harris County GOP was joined as plaintiffs by some Republican operatives. The court is entirely Republican.

Republicans then returned to the Texas Supreme Court to ask that all the ballots cast using drive-thru voting locations be thrown out. The court is still considering that request but they appear unlikely to grant it.

Perhaps with the outcome of the supreme court request in mind, Texas Republicans filed with the federal district court. They argue that the state legislature never approved drive-thru voting and that as such it violates the state legislature's sole authority over election law under the Constitution.

Slate's Mark Joseph Stern pointed out on Saturday that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly said state legislatures do not have sole authority over election law, while he argued the legislature has already approved drive-thru voting.

A decision is due in the coming days but whatever the outcome, it is very likely to be appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Voters Wear Protective Masks as They Wait
Voters wear protective masks as they wait in line to cast their ballots at an early voting center at the Franconia Governmental Center on October 31, in Alexandria, Virginia. Today is the final day of early voting in Virginia, with voters waiting hours in line to cast their ballots ahead of the presidential election on Tuesday. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images