TEXAS, USA — Harris County's elections administrator and an Austin-area voter registrar have asked a federal judge to block a Texas law that bans election officials from sending mail-in ballot applications to registered voters who haven't requested one.
The motion for a preliminary injunction was filed on Tuesday by Isabel Longoria, the elections administrator for Harris County, and Cathy Morgan, a volunteer deputy registrar in Travis and Williamson counties. In the motion, Longoria argues that the law violates her right to free speech and harms her ability to encourage Harris County voters to cast their ballots.
According to KVUE's media partners at the Austin American-Statesman, the motion was the next step in a federal lawsuit filed by Longoria and Morgan on Dec. 10. It seeks to block a provision that carries a jail sentence of six months to two years and a fine of up to $10,000.
The ban on unsolicited voting-by-mail applications was part of Senate Bill 1, a sweeping voting law passed by Texas lawmakers earlier this year.
Other provisions of SB 1 have been challenged in multiple lawsuits by civil rights groups and the U.S. Department of Justice, including bans on 24-hour and drive-thru voting. Those challenges are awaiting a summer trial.
But Longoria and Morgan say waiting until summer isn't an option for a ban that will affect them in the weeks leading up to the March 1 primaries. Longoria and Morgan asked U.S. District Judge Fred Biery of San Antonio to rule no later than Feb. 14 because to cast a mail-in ballot in the primaries, voters must fill out and return an application between Jan. 1 and Feb. 18.
According to the Statesman, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit, though his office opposes the request for an injunction.
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