A trial began Monday over a sweeping Texas voting law that set off a 38-day walkout by Democrats in 2021 and resulted in thousands of rejected mail ballots under the stricter measures, which Republicans had rushed to pass following President Donald Trump's defeat and his false claims of a stolen election.
The lawsuit was brought by a coalition of voting rights groups after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the changes into law. The trial in San Antonio federal court could last weeks and it is unclear when U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez might rule. Potentially at stake are voting rules Texas will use for the 2024 elections, although any decision is likely to be appealed.
The challenge, from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and others, has not stopped the measures from taking effect, including a ban on 24-hour polling places and drive-thru voting. Many changes targeted Harris County, which includes Houston and is where a slate of Republican candidates are challenging their defeats last year.
During the hurried rollout of the law last year, more than 23,000 mail ballots in Texas were rejected during the March 2022 primary elections as voters struggled to navigate the new rules. By November's general election, the rejection rate fell significantly, but was still higher than what experts consider normal.
In August, Rodriguez separately struck down a requirement that mail voters provide the same identification number they used when they registered to vote.