Former Austin City Manager Terrell Blodgett, Texas Young Democrats (TYD) and Texas College Democrats (TCD) filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a ban on temporary polling locations.
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas against Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs, alleges that HB 1888, which became effective on September 1, “in time for the November 2019 elections,” violates voting rights.
Blodgett is a 96-year-old disabled Austin resident who lives at the Westminster senior living facility. He was unable to vote in the November election because, with the advent of HB 1888, the mobile voting location was not available at the Westminster facility.
Under HB 1888’s amendment, temporary polling places must remain open for each weekday of the early voting period that the main early voting polling place will be open. According to the complaint, “a motivating purpose of HB 1888 was to disadvantage young and old voters confronted with transportation hurdles by burdening their exercise of the electoral franchise.” Plaintiffs allege that the bill’s restriction violates their First Amendment right to vote, and is also a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
TCD said in a statement on Tuesday that “the assault on mobile polling locations in HB 1888 is the continuation of a wider epidemic of voter suppression in the state of Texas.” Since college students have traditionally relied on temporary polling locations to cast their votes, TCD claimed, “the damaging results of HB 1888 can only be interpreted as an attack on marginalized communities and students.”