The US Justice Department filed suit Thursday against the state of Texas over a recently passed law that the federal government says would unfairly restrict voting rights.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Antonio, challenges a law called SB1, which was passed in September to modernize voting and elections in this southwestern state.
The Justice Department alleges that the measure, which restricts automobile voting and other restrictions on voting by the hour and mail, violates federal voting and civil rights laws.
Proponents argue that the law makes elections safer by protecting against fraud, but critics warn that it disproportionately affects the voting power of minorities, especially African Americans, who support Democrats.
The Justice Department said in a statement that the law harms voters’ rights by restricting access to assistance for those who need help casting a vote, and allowing forms and ballots sent by mail to be “errors or omissions”. By disclaiming that they do not constitute material to establish “the power of the voter’s eligibility to cast a vote.”
Texas’s measure is part of 33 laws passed by 19 states this year that restrict voting, according to the liberal-leaning Brennan Justice Center.
These laws have found particular support in Republican states, as former President Donald Trump continues to make baseless claims that a massive electoral fraud conspiracy cost him the 2020 presidential election.
About 50 Texas Democratic state lawmakers left the state in mid-July in an effort to block the law by depriving the House of Representatives of the minimum number of lawmakers required to vote on the law.
However, the governor called two subsequent special legislative sessions and eventually enough Democrats returned to reach a quorum.
“Our democracy depends on the right of eligible voters to vote and count,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in an official statement.
“The Department of Justice will continue to use all authorities at its disposal to protect this fundamental pillar of our society.”
Democratic President Joe Biden’s government is fighting in court with Texas over a law passed in September that bans abortion in the state.
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