Resource: Mi Familia Vota v. Abbott

By: Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project

October 22, 2020

Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project

Plaintiffs Mi Familia Vota, Texas State Conference of NAACP, and individual registered voters sued Governor and Secretary of State of Texas for violating the First Amendment, the Equal Protection and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Fifteenth Amendment, section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, all as applied to elections held during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, plaintiffs claimed violation of the due process clause because short early voting periods, inaccessible early voting sites, and limited early voting hours would unjustifiably burden voters who would have to stand in long lines in large crowds, vote on electronic voting machines with shared surfaces, and obtain necessary identifications. Plaintiffs claimed violation of equal protection clause because voters able to vote in places without waiting in line and voters with option of voting by hand-marked paper ballot would not bear the same burdens as others, voters at high risk face a greater burden, and black and latino voters would be disproportionately likely to stand in long lines and subject to large crowds to vote. Plaintiffs claimed violation of the First Amendment because voters would be unjustifiably burdened in exercising their right to vote. Plaintiffs claimed violation of the Fifteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act because defendants knew that the risks posed by the pandemic disproportionately affected communities of color but failed to address them. Plaintiffs sought injunctive relief to order defendants to modify in-person voting procedures during the early voting period and on Election Day to ensure safety.