Image: State Representative Steve Toth (right), Republican of Conroe, shown in a policy discussion with a young constituent (left), Gage Andreski, on May 10, 2019, was one of four individuals who brought a petition to the Supreme Court of Texas to attempt to throw out 120,000 “drive-thru” ballots Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins permitted during Early Voting for the November 3, 2020, General Election. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Austin, Houston, and Conroe – The Supreme Court of Texas yesterday afternoon refused to hear an emergency petition, which State Representative Steve Toth (Republican of Conroe), conservative political activist Steve Hotze, M.D., Texas House District 18 Republican Nominee Wendell Champion, and Harris County 80th District Court Republican Nominee Sharon Hemphill filed to ask the high court to throw out the approximately 120,000 “drive-thru” ballots Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins permitted during Early Voting for the November 3, 2020, General Election. The Supreme Court refused the petition requesting a writ of mandamus without explanation.
The entire ruling follows.
Hollins’ Offices created a new “manner” of voting in Harris County, “drive-thru” voting. Drive-thru voting is not recognized in the Texas Election Code.
Hollins’ drive-thru voting scheme allows any and all Harris County registered voters – regardless of whether they are permitted to do so under the Texas Election Code – to engage in early and election day “drive-thru” voting. Hollins who is a Democrat and currently serves as Deputy Vice-Chair of Finance for the Democratic Party of Texas, established ten (10) drive-thru voting locations and placed nine (9) of the locations in heavily Democratic areas.
Through the Texas Election Code, the Legislature chose not to recognize drive-thru voting. The Legislature did expressly create a narrowly defined exception to voting in person for those who are physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance or likelihood of injuring the voter health – “curb-side voting.” The Legislature restricted curbside voting to three distinct categories: (i) presents sick at the time of the vote; (ii) a voter has a physical condition requiring personal assistance (e.g., is physically handicapped); or (iii) voting inside the polling location would create a likelihood of injuring the voter’s health. Additionally, if a voter qualifies as disabled under Texas Election Code § 82.002 the voter is eligible to vote by mail.
A summary of Toth’s, Hotze’s, Champion’s, and Hemphill’s petition follows from their brief submitted to the Supreme Court:
“By indiscriminately encouraging and allowing any and all Harris County registered voters to cast their ballots curb side on this invalid basis,…[Hollin’s] ultra vires act regarding drive-thru voting is a violation of state and federal law and must be stopped. By circumventing the Texas Legislature and implementing a manner of voting not recognized in the Texas Election Code,…[Hollins] is violating Art. I, section IV, clause 1 of the United States Constitution.
“Additionally, by adopting a manner of voting that is inconsistent with the Texas Election Code and not adopted by any other county in Texas,…[Hollins] is violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Accordingly,…[Toth, Hotze, Champion, and Hemphill] seek mandamus relief to compel Respondent [Hollins] to perform his nondiscretionary, ministerial duties to restrict curbside voting to only those Harris County registered voters who have submitted sworn applications which facially satisfy at least one of the specific categories permitting curbside voting under the Texas Election Code.”
Toth and his fellow petitioners sought an order requiring Hollins to end “drive-thru” voting and requiring that Hollins not tabulate the “drive-thru” votes he already collected.
Toth told The Golden Hammer yesterday evening, “It’s discouraging to see a so-called ‘Republican’ elected court be so fearful to do the right thing. In Bush versus Gore in 2000, the Supreme Court, the highest court of our land, ruled that what they were doing in Dade County was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. How is this situation any different?”
Toth noted that “nine out of the ten drive-thru locations, which Hollins established, are set up in predominantly Democratic districts.”
Toth and Hotze are plaintiffs in a similar lawsuit they filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. Judge Andrew S. Hanen, whom President George H.W. Bush nominated in 1992, will hear the emergency hearing in downtown Houston at 10:30 a.m. this morning.