U.S. judge dismisses Texas Republican attempt to remove 127,000 votes

People gather to protest outside of a federal courthouse where a judge is deciding whether to throw out ballots cast at drive-through polling locations in Houston, Texas, U.S.

On Monday, a federal judge in Texas denied an attempt by Republicans to throw out about 127,000 votes already cast in the U.S. presidential election at drive-through voting sites in Houston, a Democratic-leaning area.

The plaintiffs had accused County Clerk Chris Hollins, a Democrat, of acting illegally when he allowed drive-through voting as an alternative during the COVID pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen said the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the case.

The lawsuit was brought last Wednesday by plaintiffs, including state Representative Steve Toth, conservative activist Steve Hotze, and judicial candidate Sharon Hemphill.

Harris County, home to the city of Houston and about 4.7 million people is the third-most populous county in the United States. It currently has ten drive-through polling sites, which are available to all voters.

“I find that when you balance the harms, you’ve got to weigh in favor of counting the votes,” the judge said.

Texas, the second-largest U.S. state, is traditionally a Republican stronghold. Still, polls show a tight race this year between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden with more than 9 million ballots already cast, eclipsing the state’s total turnout from the 2016 presidential election.

The Texas Supreme Court on Sunday rejected a nearly identical bid by the same plaintiffs to halt drive-through voting in Harris County. The same court also previously denied similar challenges brought by the Texas Republican Party and the Harris County Republican Party.

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