Last updated on November 16, 2020
Monday’s biggest developments:
- Election monitors will be in Harris and Waller counties on Election Day, feds say
- Drive-thru votes in Harris County appear safe after federal judge rejects Republicans’ lawsuit
- Harris County Democrats’ headquarters vandalized
- Texas on track for record voter turnout
Feds sending election monitors to Harris, Waller counties
[4:30 p.m.] Federal election monitors will be on the ground in parts of Texas on Tuesday to monitor “compliance with federal voting rights laws.”
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that Harris and Waller counties are among the 44 jurisdictions in 18 states where monitors from its civil rights division will be stationed on Election Day.
Harris County, the state’s largest, has emerged this year as an epicenter of voting rights fights as the county worked to make voting easier during the coronavirus pandemic. Waller County, home to historically Black Prairie View A&M University, has long been under scrutiny over voting access for Prairie View students.
As is typical, the department didn’t specify why those jurisdictions would be under federal supervision, but the DOJ regularly places personnel in Texas counties during elections.
Harris, Waller and Tarrant counties were on the DOJ’s list during the 2018 elections when the department sent monitors to 35 jurisdictions in 19 states. In 2016, the DOJ under the Obama administration sent monitors to 67 jurisdictions in 28 states, including Harris, Waller and Dallas counties. — Alexa Ura
Harris County drive-thru votes appear safe after federal judge rejects GOP-led lawsuit
[2:42 p.m.] A federal judge Monday rejected a request by a conservative Texas activist and three Republican candidates to toss out nearly 127,000 votes cast at drive-thru polling sites in Houston’s Harris County, the state’s most populous county, which is largely Democratic.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee, follows two earlier decisions by the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court rejecting similar efforts by Republicans challenging the validity of drive-thru voting in Harris County. Although Hanen’s ruling is still expected to be appealed, it appears to clear the way for counting of the early voting drive-thru ballots on Election Day.
Ten percent of Harris County’s in-person early voters cast their ballots at the county’s 10 drive-thru locations. Dismissing the votes would have been a monumental disenfranchisement of voters in a presidential election besieged with fights over voter suppression and fraud. — Jolie McCullough
Harris County Democratic Party’s headquarters vandalized
[12:54 p.m.] The headquarters of the Harris County Democratic Party was vandalized on Monday, the party said in a news release.
“Election No, Revolution Yes,” was spray-painted onto the party’s office windows along with a sickle and hammer, a symbol first used during the communist Russian Revolution. The building’s locks were also filled with super glue, according to the release, preventing officials from entering the office.
“This is what happens when Republicans are losing,” said Lillie Schechter, Harris County Democratic Party Chair, in a statement. “They use scare tactics and intimidation to scare voters.”
Identical messages were reported overnight in Pennsylvania. Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle’s office and Republican congressional candidate Sean Parnell’s house were both vandalized, according to Twitter posts and a report by CBS Pittsburgh. — Shawn Mulcahy
Texas on track for record voter turnout
[5 a.m.] More than 9.7 million Texans cast ballots during the early voting period that ended Friday, crushing previous early voting totals in the state and setting Texas on a course for record turnout in Tuesday’s general election.
At least 9,718,648 voters cast early ballots, according to preliminary final numbers released by the Texas secretary of state on Sunday. That is 57.3% of registered voters, just 2 percentage points shy of the overall turnout of 59.4% in 2016. Of those early votes, 8,745,565 were cast in person; 973,083 were cast by mail.
Early voting, which Gov. Greg Abbott extended by six days this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, has already eclipsed total votes during the 2016 general election, when 8,969,226 Texans voted. — Jeremy Schwartz and Mandi Cai
This article was originally published on Harris County Democrats’ headquarters vandalized