Disability Rights Groups File Court Brief Supporting Lawsuit to Fight Ballot Drop Off Location Limit

Posted on

October 13, 2020

Edie Surtees, Disability Rights Texas, 512-407-2739, esurtees@drtx.org
Armand Viscarri, ACLU of Texas, 346-299-6803, media@aclutx.org
John Gerstein, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, 415-533-3741, jgersten@lchb.com

Order Limiting Ballot Drop-Off Locations Discriminates Against Voters with Disabilities

Disability Rights Groups File State Court Brief Supporting Lawsuit Challenge

AUSTIN—After filing an amicus brief in federal court last week, ADAPT of Texas, REV UP Texas, and Disability Rights Texas filed another amicus brief today in state court supporting the current lawsuit to block Governor Abbott’s order limiting ballot drop-off locations to one per county. Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Disability Rights Texas, and the law firms of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, Winston & Strawn LLP, and Reed Smith, 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 is not only unconscionable, it is also a violation of federal civil rights laws.”

“This order 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.”

The amicus brief was filed in the Travis County District Court.

Read a copy of the brief or see brief attached below.

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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 established in 1977. 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.

ADAPT of Texas is a grassroots disability rights group.  With the cry “We Will Ride!” ADAPT of Texas started in 1985 with the fight for lifts on buses. ADAPT’s advocacy led to Capital Metro becoming the first fully accessible mainline transit system in Texas.  Since the 1990 passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, ADAPT has turned its main focus to community attendant services.  It’s new mottos are: “Our Homes, Not Nursing Homes” and “Free Our People.”

The mission of REV UP Texas is to outreach, educate, and disseminate information to people with disabilities, family members, supporters, professionals, the general public, and policymakers on issues affecting the integration of people with disabilities of all ages into every aspect of community living.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is the leading civil rights organization in the Lone Star State. Since itsformation in 1938, it has worked in the courts, the legislature, and through public education to protect civil rights and individual liberty. For the November 2020 election, the ACLU of Texas launched www.aclutx.org/lettexansvote to create a one-stop shop for all voting rights information.

Attached documents