FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 8, 2020
Armand Viscarri, ACLU of Texas, 346-299-6803, email@example.com
Lia S. Davis, Disability Rights Texas, 512-454-4816, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Gerstein, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, 415-533-3741, email@example.com
Ivy Le, Texas Civil Rights Project, 706-254-3001, firstname.lastname@example.org
Disability Rights Groups File Court Brief in Support of Challenge to Governor Abbott’s Order to Limit Ballot Drop-Off Locations
HOUSTON—Leading disability rights groups ADAPT Texas, REV UP Texas, and Disability Rights Texas filed a friend of the court brief today in support of the current lawsuit to block Governor Abbott’s order to limit ballot drop-off locations. Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the Texas Civil Rights Project, Disability Rights Texas, and the law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, the groups seek to protect the voting rights of individuals with disabilities.
The brief was filed in response to Gov. Greg Abbott’s Oct. 1 proclamation ordering counties to limit ballot drop-off locations to one per county, disproportionately impacting voters with disabilities who already face significant obstacles to voting and are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. The civil rights and disability rights groups argue that multiple drop-off sites are needed to allow all Texans to vote safely.
“Governor Abbott’s last minute Executive Order limiting drop boxes to one in every county is outrageous and blatantly discriminatory,” said Bob Kafka, REV UP Texas CoCordinator. “It will further restrict the options people with disabilities have to vote during COVID-19.”
“Many people with disabilities already face additional barriers when voting. By ordering the closure of drop off sites, the State of Texas is making it even more difficult for people with disabilities to vote,” said Lia S. Davis, Senior Attorney for Disability Rights Texas. “This not only unconscionable, it is also a violation of federal civil rights laws.”
“It is outrageous that Governor Abbott is recklessly making it more difficult to vote, upending plans by Texas counties to make it safer and more convenient for people to drop off their ballots,” said Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas. “As we’ve written to the Court, people with disabilities will face particular challenges, risk severe harm, and ultimately may be deterred from voting due to his decision to limit drop-off locations. The Court should put a stop to this attempt to suppress the fundamental right to vote.”
“Forcing voters with disabilities to a single, oftentimes distant ballot drop-off site puts their health at risk and devalues their voices at this critical time in our country’s history,” said Nimish R. Desai, Partner, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP. “We are hopeful this litigation leads to the reopening of the additional sites, so that all Texans can vote in a safe, convenient, and secure manner.”
“Simply put, not only does the Governor’s anti-voter proclamation open the door to more COVID-19 infections, it also violates the civil rights of people with disabilities,” said Hani Mirza, senior staff attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project. “As our clients show in this brief, reducing the number of mail-in-ballot drop off facilities is another slap in their face when they already face enormous barriers to casting a ballot. It says to them that scoring political points is more important than their right to vote.”
The amicus brief was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin.
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Disability Rights Texas (previously named Advocacy Inc.) is the federally designated legal protection and advocacy agency (P&A) for people with disabilities in Texas. Its mission is to help people with disabilities understand and exercise their rights under the law, ensuring their full and equal participation in society. Visit www.DRTx.org for more information.