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HOUSTON – Only the Toyota Center will be available to drive-through voting in Harris County on Election Day, County Clerk Chris Hollins said late Monday, eliminating nine other drive-through options to voters cast their ballots just hours before the polls open.
Nearly 127,000 Harris County voters voted through during early voting at 10 polling locations across the county, a safer option for some voters during the coronavirus pandemic.
Overall, more than 800 polling locations are expected to open in Harris County on Tuesday. But Hollins said he would close most of the driving options as legal challenges continue from a conservative activist and three Republican candidates for the office. A federal judge earlier on Monday dismissed the group̵7;s attempt to vote pass during early voting, but the plaintiffs continued to submit appellate challenges to pass-through voting. end of monday.
The two sides in the case quarreled with US District Judge Andrew Hanen in an earlier courtroom on Monday over the definition of a building, a key distinction in state law, which states “each Polling points will be placed inside a building. ” Republican plaintiffs argue that Hollins “brags” about the county providing more than 700 live polling locations on Election Day, a sufficient number of voters, the plaintiffs say and don’t. driving options are required.
Today is a big win for democracy. 127,000 votes in Harris County will count! Since the hearing this afternoon, I have been consulting with my legal team and many electoral law experts who have reiterated the legality of a pass-through. first /
– Chris Hollins (@CGHollins) November 3, 2020
Hollins, after saying on Monday afternoon that 10 venues would remain open on Election Day, reversed course.
“Tonight, Judge Hanen issued his order in favor of driver’s license voting during the Early Voting period. He also stated his opinion that the tents contain most of the pilot voting centers. vehicles will not qualify as ‘buildings’, requiring Voting Locations on Election Day, ”wrote Hollins on Twitter.“ My job is to protect voting rights for all Harris County voters , and includes who will vote on Election Day. I cannot encourage voters to vote in the tent if that puts their vote at risk. “
It’s not clear what Hollins’ decision means for the ongoing litigation. The No. 5 US Court of Appeals late on Monday rejected Republican plaintiffs’ request to prevent Hollins from allowing bypass voting on Election Day.
Correction, November 2, 2020: The previous version of this story misidentified the Harris County clerk. He’s Chris Hollins, not Chris Collins.